A common call I receive is that a landlord will not make repairs to the property. The tenant has asked the landlord to fix problems by phone, text, email, or even by using a repair request system supplied by the landlord. Regardless, the landlord either won’t get to the repairs or won’t agree to the repairs.
If you find yourself in this situation, you have two options. First, you can rely on your statutory rights for repairs. Second, you can rely on your contractual right to repairs. There may be quite a bit of overlap in these two options, but it is important to understand the difference. This article will cover your statutory rights.
Enforcing Your Statutory Right to Repairs.
Idaho Code 6-320 states that a tenant may seek court action for the following repairs (or acts):
- Failure to provide reasonable waterproofing and weather protection of the premises;
- Failure to maintain in good working order electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating, cooling, or sanitary facilities supplied by the landlord;
- Maintaining the premises in a manner hazardous to the health or safety of the tenant;
- Failure to return a security deposit as and when required by law;
- Breach of any term or provision of the lease or rental agreement materially affecting the health and safety of the tenant, whether explicitly or implicitly a part thereof; and
- Failure to install approved smoke detectors in each dwelling unit
If you believe that an action by the landlord is required based on any of the issues listed above, you need to send a 3-day demand letter to the landlord. This letter must “list each failure or breach” at issue and a provide “written demand requiring performance or cure.”
You must serve this notice on the landlord in accordance with Idaho Code 6-323:
- By delivering a copy to the landlord or his agent personally; or
- If the landlord or his agent is absent from his usual place of business, by leaving a copy with an employee at the usual place of business of the landlord or his agent; or
- By sending a copy of the notice to the landlord or his agent by United States Postal Service certified mail, return receipt requested.
If you properly serve this notice and the landlord refuses to take action, you then have the right to bring a court action for specific performance (ie: a court order requiring the landlord to make repairs) AND damages (ie: money). Normally, you cannot seek both specific performance and damages together, so this statute enhances tenant rights. Additionally, you may be entitled to 3x your damages (Idaho Code 6-317) or attorney’s fees and costs (Idaho Code 6-324).
Sample Statutory Demand Form
I’m going to provide you with a sample copy of a 3-day demand form. You can decide if you want to use this. Admittedly, I never personally use this form because I really only take tenant’s rights cases that have more issues than just a straightforward 6-320 demand letter.
You can download a copy of this sample form as a Word document or a fillable PDF: