How to Be Prepared to Resolve Housing Problems

Keep records, even if you have never had a problem with the apartment or building you live in. You should always keep the following in a safe place:

1. Your lease and renewal leases.

2. A list of the dates when you paid rent.

3. Proof that you paid rent. If you pay by personal check, keep the canceled check. If you pay by money order, keep copy of the money order. If you pay by cash, get a rent receipt immediately. Do not accept promises that the receipt will be sent to you later. You have a right to get one every time you pay rent in cash.

4. Notices from government agencies about your apartment.

5. Copies of all letters or papers about your apartment, including any letters or complaints you sent to your landlord or to a government agency. If you sent these letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, keep the receipts you receive from the Post office showing that the person or the agency received the letter and signed for it.

6. A list of the dates when you do not have heat or hot water. The easiest way to do this is on a calendar. This list should also include the temperature in the apartment and outside on each date.

7. A list of the dates when you have had major problems, such as leaks, flooding, broken windows or broken locks, and photographs of any of those problems. This list should also include the dates you talked to the landlord or superintendent regarding these problems.

8. Receipts for work and materials if you are forced to make repairs yourself after notifying the landlord that repairs are needed.