Do Landlords Have to Fix Broken Windows?

Last Updated: September 12, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

Landlords often must fix windows in rental property. Problem windows may violate standards for security, weatherproofing, and basic habitability.

Statewide Window Laws

The following states have statutory statewide window requirements:

State Standard(s)
California A landlord is responsible for fixing broken windows, and maintaining window locks on ground-level and second-floor windows.
Colorado Premises are not habitable without working security devices on all exterior windows.
District of Columbia Detailed requirements for doors and windows, which must be weatherproof, well-fitting, openable, and latchable, among other things.
Florida If there’s no locally applicable code, landlords must provide windows and screens in reasonable repair, and fix broken windows. Damaged screens only require replacement once per year.
Massachusetts Windows must be weatherproof, and resistant to accidents, rodents, and insects.
Minnesota Landlords must weatherproof windows whenever this would result in energy savings that exceed the amortized cost.
New Jersey Landlords must provide window screens for openable windows below the sixth floor, between May 1 and October 1 of each year. They also must, in certain cases, provide notice about the availability of window guards for young children.
North Carolina Broken windows, or ground-level windows that can’t be locked, are an imminently dangerous condition under state law.
Oregon Landlords must ensure all windows that allow access to the dwelling unit latch securely. They must also provide generally weatherproofed windows.
Tennessee Non-exempt ventilating exterior windows must be seasonally screened against flying insects. Where rat infestation is a threat, they also must be screened against rats.
Vermont All operable windows must have screens. Property owners must ensure windows are “weathertight, watertight, rodent proof and in good repair.”

States Without Statewide Window Laws

Landlords in states without statewide window laws still have to maintain windows, in most cases.

Ground-level windows are the most likely to enjoy legal protection. Unsecured ground-level windows make it easy for trespassers and pests to enter. Tenants can almost always demand repairs to a ground-level window.

Windows above ground level get less legal protection. Tenants may only have a right to repairs if there’s an issue with weatherproofing or ventilation. For example, a window glued or painted shut may be a violation.

Many window rules are in local housing codes rather than statewide landlord-tenant laws. Places without statewide window requirements may still have local code standards.

Consequences for Failure To Fix Windows

It is a standard type of housing violation for a landlord to fail to fix windows as required. State laws vary widely, but if a landlord doesn’t correct issues with a window after proper notice from the tenant, the following remedies often are available:

  • Injunction to force compliance.
  • Suing the landlord for costs of the violation (monetary damages).
  • Reporting the landlord to housing authorities.
  • Tenant contracting for repairs and deducting from rent (not an option in some states).
  • Ending the lease and moving out (not an option in some states).