Can a Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs?

Last Updated: September 19, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

In most states, a landlord can’t refuse to make necessary repairs. Some states do let the landlord refuse repairs if the tenant defaults on rent. In every state, tenants are usually also liable for damage caused by their own misconduct.

What Are Necessary Repairs?

Landlords only have to make repairs that the law deems necessary. If there isn’t a legal duty to repair, a landlord can refuse to make that repair.

The standards for necessary repairs vary from state to state. As a rule of thumb, repairs are necessary to any issue on rental property which could lead to health and safety problems. Some states let a landlord refuse if the tenant has defaulted on rent, but this isn’t very common.

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What Do Tenants Have To Fix?

Tenants are responsible for repairing damage they cause themselves, and damage to their own personal property. They also can’t make a landlord fix most minor issues that don’t threaten health and safety, like worn carpet.

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Special Standards for Landlord Repairs

Most states clearly allow or disallow a landlord to refuse repairs. A few states have special standards.

State Standard for Landlord Repairs
Illinois Unclear standard. Landlords are responsible for code compliance, but don’t have to pay for damage the tenant causes.
Maryland Landlords may refuse to repair, but only in one specific case. A tenant must first receive 3-5 judgments for unpaid rent in the previous 12 months. Specifics depend on the type of tenancy.
Oregon Landlords can’t refuse necessary repairs. However, under certain conditions the tenant loses the right to sue over a refusal to repair.
Washington Landlords can’t refuse necessary repairs. If they’ve tried to repair but the tenant has prevented access to the rental property, there’s no further duty.

Consequences for Wrongful Landlord Refusal to Repair

Wrongful refusal to repair as required is a serious violation of legal duty. State laws vary, but if a landlord refuses repairs after proper notice, a tenant can often stop or reduce rent payments. Sometimes the tenant can even move to alternative accommodation.

The following remedies also may be available: