(WTOL) - A common course of action when you are renting a space in disrepair is to call the landlord to fix the problem. Sometimes, those calls go unanswered and renters are left living in a mess.
Keoka Cavens is moving out of her apartment, because they landlord has refused to make repairs for months to water and mold damage. She showed photos of an open ceiling, where it was so wet it collapsed, and water cascading down from a ceiling light fixture.
Earlier this year, Jimmy Stigall begged for someone to fix up the mobile home park where he lives with his son, who suffers from seizures and lives in a wheelchair. Stigall showed broken windows covered with duct tape and cardboard and disrepair everywhere.
The landlord would not answer either of our calls.
Common complaints people have with rented properties are: not enough heat, poor security, run down appearance, or bedbugs.
Attorney Daniel McCarthy, who specializes in landlord-tenant issues said, "If there's a specific problem the landlord's not addressing, the tenant should put that in writing."
He also encourages residents to continue paying rent while they make a list of the problems, send it in to the landlord and give the landlord a 30 day window to fix the issues.
If the landlord fails to meet that requirement, the tenant should go to the courthouse and ask about withholding rent. Escrow must be done through the court. McCarthy said it's important you continue to pay your rent through this process or you could be sued.
"Go to the Clerk of Courts downtown at the courthouse and do what's called a 'rent escrow,'" McCarthy said. "They cannot decide 'my landlord hasn't fixed this problem, I've been after him, he told me he was going to fix it he hasn't done it, I'm not going to pay,'" McCarthy said.
Follow these steps, so you don't waste your money.