Apartment Repair Timeline

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One of the wonderful things about living in an apartment is having a landlord or property management company that is responsible for the upkeep of your apartment. Often this is easier said than done. Some repairs require an immediate response from the landlord or manager while others are less urgent. We broke down the response timeline you should expect from your landlord or manager based on the type of issue you may have.

Repairs that should be completed within 24 hours of your landlord receiving notice are violations of the state Sanitary Code that “materially endanger” you. These include no heat, no electric/gas, no safe water, no working toilet, not enough hot or cold water.

Repairs that should be fixed within 5 days of your landlord receiving notice are not an emergency situation, but still impact the habitability of your apartment. These include defects in electric, plumbing or heating that does not cause an immediate hazard. The following is a sampling of provisions outlined in the state Sanitary Code:

  • Heat: The landlord must provide a heating system in good working order. From September 16 to June 14, every room must be heated to at least 68º F between 7:00 AM and 11 PM, and at least 64º F at all other hours. During the heating season, the maximum heat allowable in the apartment is 78º F.
  • Water: The landlord must provide you with enough water, with adequate pressure, to meet your ordinary needs. The landlord must also provide the facilities to heat the water at a temperature between 110º F and 130º F
  • Rodents: The landlord must maintain the unit free from rodents, cockroaches, and insect infestation, if there are two or more apartments in the building.
  • Structural Elements: Every landlord must maintain the foundation, floors, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, roof, staircases, porches, chimneys, and other structural elements of the dwelling so that it excludes wind, rain, and snow; is rodent-proof, weather tight, watertight, and free from chronic dampness; in good repair, and in every way fit for its intended use.
Other repairs that do not seriously impact the habitability of your apartment should be fixed within 30 days of your landlord receiving notice. Keep in mind that your landlord does not need to make repairs that are only cosmetic.      

For more information on apartment repairs and the State Sanitary Code reference the Housing Code Checklist and the Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities. 

Now that you know how things should go down, how do you actually go about getting the process started? 

Step 1: Call your landlord. Especially if the repair is an emergency you want to let your landlord know as soon as possible. Give your landlord or the management company in charge of making repairs a call. Be sure to discuss the nature of the repair and your expectations for the timeliness in which the repairs will take place.

Step 2: Put it in writing. Email your landlord, recapping your phone conversation. Include in this email the time of your phone call and the timeline you discussed for the repairs to be completed as well as any other arrangement you made with your landlord verbally. It's a good idea to include photos of the affected area and any damage that is being caused as a result of the defect. For example, if there is a leak, send photos of water damage. If your heat is broken, photograph the thermostat. This way you not only have your word as evidence of the damage, but also photos as proof. 

Step 3: If your landlord is unresponsive in making necessary repairs, call the Inspectional Services Department Housing Division to document the situation. ISD can enforce code violations, and compel the landlord to make needed repairs through penalties.

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