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Complaint Letter to a Landlord (Template Included)

Claudia Diaz - Landlord - March 31, 2023

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    Renting isn't easy, and it can be especially difficult if your landlord ignores valid complaints you've voiced about your housing situation. However, under most state laws, landlords have certain obligations to their tenants. If your landlord has ignored your complaints consider sending a formal complaint letter instead

    In the article below, we discuss how to write a complaint letter to a landlord, what to include in your complaint letter, provide a sample complaint letter, and give you the next steps after sending a landlord complaint letter. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a letter to your landlord? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Reasons to Write a Formal Complaint Letter 

    Here are some of the most common reasons people write complaint letters to their landlords: 

    • A landlord refuses to return your security deposit. For example, you move out of your rental unit and leave the unit in perfect condition, but your landlord is withholding your security deposit.  

    • Other tenants are being extremely noisy during weekday evenings, and your landlord refuses to do anything about it. Most leases include a “quiet hours” clause that sets specific times during which tenants are required to keep noise levels to a minimum. 

    • A landlord refuses to make necessary repairs. Most state laws or rental leases also include provisions that discuss what repairs your landlord is obligated to make.  

    • Complaints regarding the health or safety of your dwelling. Address any health or safety problems you are experiencing. This could mean mold, a pest infestation, or a problem with the building's security.  

    Why Sending a Formal Complaint Letter is Important

    Sending a complaint letter is an important way to voice your concerns, get the required attention, and reach a resolution

    Here are at least four other reasons to send a complaint letter to a landlord: 

    1. A formal complaint letter demonstrates your commitment to resolving the issue. It shows the recipient that you are willing to take action to address the problem.

    2. You are taken more seriously if you send a complaint letter. 

    3. Sending a complaint letter provides a record of your complaint. This can be helpful if you need to pursue legal action against your landlord in the future.

    4. The most important reason to send a complaint letter is that it may lead to a resolution of your complaint without you having to take further action.

    What to Avoid in Your Complaint Letter 

    There are no set rules for complaint letter writing. However, here are some general tips for what to avoid when writing your complaint letter:  

    • Do not use disparaging language. In general, try not to use language that will convey to your landlord that you are angry, hostile, or not open to discussion. 

    • Avoid making threats. This letter could end up in court if you aren’t able to resolve your problem. Any threats or made-up facts can be used against you later. 

    •  Do not fabricate facts. As mentioned above, if you end up going to court over the complaint, the judge will read your letter at the hearing. Any facts you claim in the complaint letter may be brought up in court and will require further explanation. 

    Steps To Writing a Complaint Letter to a Landlord 

    Below, we have included some general steps to follow to write an effective complaint letter to your landlord. 

    1. Explain Your Complaint 

    Begin your letter by clearly stating the purpose of the letter, such as "I am writing to express my concerns about the noise levels in my apartment building." Keep the facts concise and clear. Your landlord is not going to read or respond to a 3-page complaint letter. Effective complaint letters get to the heart of the problem quickly

    2. Explain the Impact 

    Describe how the issue is affecting you and your ability to live comfortably in the rental unit. Your landlord may be ignoring your concerns because they don’t understand the extent of the problem. This is your chance to voice your concerns and how it is affecting your daily life.

    3. Suggest a Solution

    If you have a suggestion in mind for a course of action your landlord can take, include it in your letter. By working collaboratively with your landlord to find a solution to the issue, you are more likely to resolve the problem and maintain a positive relationship with your landlord.

    4. Attach Any Relevant Documentation 

    If you have any documentation to support your complaint, such as photographs, past correspondences between you and your landlord, or relevant sections of your lease, attach them to your letter. This will better illustrate to your landlord the extent of the problem you are currently facing. 

    5. Include a Deadline to Respond  

    You may want to consider giving your landlord 14 days to respond to you and state that if they do not respond within that time, you will take further action. 

    Once you have sent your complaint letter, keep it in your records. In the event you do end up filing a small claims lawsuit, you can bring it to the hearing and show it to the judge. This is especially handy if your landlord claims they didn’t receive the complaint letter or if the judge asks questions about the complaint letter at the hearing. 

    Sample Complaint Letter to a Landlord

    Below is a sample complaint letter addressed to a landlord. Remember, when using this sample, insert the relevant information of your dispute: 

    [Your Name]

    [Your Address]

    [Date]

    [Landlord’s Name]

    [Landlord’s Address]

    RE: [Subject of your complaint] 

    Dear [Landlord’s Name]: 

    I am writing this letter to bring to your attention some issues that have been affecting my living situation at [rental property address]. I have [describe the problem or issue you faced]. This has caused me significant inconvenience and has resulted in [explain the impact of the issue].

    I have tried to resolve this issue through [explain the steps you have taken so far, if any]. However, I have yet to resolve the problem. 

    I am now requesting that you take prompt and effective action to remedy these issues. To resolve this issue, [describe what action you want your landlord to take]

    I look forward to resolving this matter amicably. If you would like to discuss this matter further, you may contact me at [your email or phone number]. If I do not hear from you by [14 days from now], I will take further action.

    Sincerely,

    ____________________________

    [Your signature]

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a letter to your landlord? Check out our demand letter tool.

    How to Send Your Complaint Letter

    If you have moved out of the rental unit, consider sending your complaint letter by mail or email. If you still live in the rental unit, you can also mail or email your letter, or you can hand deliver the letter if this option is available to you. 

    For mailed letters to a landlord about a complaint, consider sending your letter with tracking information so that you know when it has been delivered. 

    Next Steps After Sending a Complaint Letter

    In addition to sending a complaint letter, consider taking the following steps to resolve your grievance: 

    1. File a complaint against your landlord with the appropriate federal or state agency. 

    2. Send a demand letter to your landlord. 

    3. Sue your landlord in small claims court. 

    File a Complaint Against Your Landlord

    Besides sending a complaint letter, you may be able to file a complaint against your landlord with a state or federal agency.  

    • If your landlord receives assistance from the federal government, you may be able to file a complaint regarding several issues, such as poor maintenance, or health hazards, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

    • You may also be able to file a complaint against your landlord with a local government department in the city or state in which the property is located. For example, the California Civil Rights Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) is responsible for enforcing California’s fair housing laws as they apply to landlords. 

    • Your state’s Attorney General’s Office may also handle complaints filed against landlords. An Attorney General is the chief legal officer of a state. The Attorney General’s Office has many different roles, but one of its main responsibility is enforcing consumer protection laws in their state. 

    Send a Demand Letter to Your Landlord 

    If your landlord ignores your complaint letter, consider sending a more strongly worded demand letter instead. A demand letter is a document you can send to your landlord in order to make a formal demand for payment, action, or compliance with a particular request. For example, you can send your landlord a demand letter if they refuse to return your security deposit

    Here are some frequently asked questions we receive about demand letters: 

    • How do I send a demand letter? Just like with a complaint letter, there are a variety of ways you can send a demand letter. The most common methods used are mail or email

    • Do I need to hire a lawyer to send a demand letter? No, you can write and send a demand letter on your own. People Clerk also offers a free AI-powered demand letter tool. 

    • How long after I send a demand letter can I expect a settlement or resolution? It is hard to predict when you will reach a settlement after sending a demand letter. This is because many factors can affect how long it can take. However, from what we have seen, a majority of people reach an agreement or settlement weeks or months after sending a demand letter. 

    Learn more about how to write a demand letter.

    Sue Your Landlord in Small Claims Court 

    Consider suing your landlord in small claims court if you have not been able to resolve your complaints through a complaint letter or after filing a complaint with a government agency. Small claims courts handle a wide range of disputes, including disputes against landlords for issues over security deposits, breach of lease terms, and unsafe living conditions.  

    Be careful, some states or cities also have Housing Courts that may be better equipped to handle specific complaints against landlords. For example, New York City has a Housing Court that handles evictions, and emergency repair cases. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a letter to your landlord? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Author

    Claudia Diaz

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Claudia holds a J.D. degree and is a certified mediator in New York and Florida. She has participated in dozens of small claims mediations in New York City courts.

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