The purpose of a formal complaint letter to a landlord is to alert the landlord of any problems the tenant is having that the landlord should fix. Formal complaint letters should be polite and respectful, even if the tenant is angry because a rude or insulting letter may not get the job done.
Before writing a formal complaint letter, the tenant should make sure the landlord is required to make the repairs according to the rental agreement. The type of repairs the landlord is obligated to make may be specified in the lease.
It is not recommended for the tenant to complain about every little inconvenience. The tenant should choose important maintenance issues that the landlord is obligated to repair. It may also state in the rental agreement that the tenant can withhold payment of rent until the problem is fixed.
The tenant should document the problem. This includes keeping track of the date the problem started. For example, the tenant should not say that he or she occasionally sees rats. The letter should clearly state the first date a rat was seen and where. It is also recommended for the tenant to research local, state and federal laws that may pertain to the particular problem.
If the landlord does not respond in the expected way within the time limit given, the tenant may need to take further steps. It is important to understand the next steps to take. For example, the tenant should not write that he or she will sue the landlord if the repairs are not made in a timely fashion unless the tenant has spoken to an attorney first. The landlord may call the tenant’s bluff, in which case the tenant will have legal expenses.
The point of a formal complaint letter is to get action from the landlord. Here are some tips for writing an effective letter:
• The letter should be brief and the problem should be clearly stated in the first one or two sentences. Specific details should be given as briefly as possible. It is not necessary to include small talk and pleasantries in this type of letter.
• The letter should be written in good faith that the landlord will do the right thing. The tone should be professional and the landlord will more likely respond professionally. However, it should also state any steps the tenant may take if the problem is not fixed.
• The letter may give solutions to the problem if it is applicable. For example if the problem is plumbing, the only solution is to call a plumber, but if the problem is poor landscaping, the tenant may offer to help for a concession on his or her rent.
• The letter should not contain any threat that the tenant will report the landlord to the City Inspector or write a negative testimonial online. If the landlord does not respond in the proper way, it may become necessary to report him or her to the Better Business Bureau later.
• The tenant can include photos of the issue such as a broken sink, window or damaged walkway if it would help the landlord understand the problem.
• The letter should give a reasonable time limit for making the repairs.
Below is a sample of a formal complaint letter to a landlord for repairs. It is written in formal business letter style and should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested. This will ensure that the tenant has proof that the landlord received the letter and the request was made. The tenant should keep a copy of the letter and any photos that are also being included.
Sample Formal Letter to Landlord for Repairs
City, State, Zip Code
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Name of Landlord:
I live in your property at the above address and have lived here for the past three years. I would like to report that there is a leak under the kitchen sink that has caused dampness there for the past month. I waited to inform you because I was hoping it was an anomaly and would stop. However, it has not gone away, and the area has been damp for some time. My concern is that mold will begin to grow and pollute the indoor air quality.
According to our rental agreement, you are responsible for any plumbing repairs to the house. I have not previously requested any help because there have not been any major issues, but this one could cause health problems for my wife. I would appreciate if it could be repaired within the next week. If my request is ignored, I will be forced to employ a plumber and deduct the cost from my rent.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. You can reach me at Phone Number or Email Address if you have any questions.
Signature of Tenant
Printed Name of Tenant
By Andre Bradley