How to Deal With Your Landlord Ignoring You (According to Experts)

published Feb 23, 2024
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Elegant brownstones and townhouses in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, New York City
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While most landlords typically respond to their tenants in a timely manner to address any issues that may arise with their unit, on rare occasions, they can be shady and leave the tenant feeling like they’re being ignored. This can leave a renter feeling confused and unsure of what steps to take next. Cindy Rachlin, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman based in New York City, has great advice on exactly what to do if something like this happens to you. 

Know if the issue is with your super or landlord (there’s a difference).

If you’re living in an apartment building and you’re having a structural issue such as a broken window or something that needs to be replaced, “the first thing you would do is speak to your super,” Rachlin says. “And if there is something that really needs the attention of the landlord, the super will then go to the landlord.” 

Upon moving into a new place, it’s a good idea to get a run-down of people to know in the building, including the superintendent, property manager, and landlord. A building superintendent (or “super”) can also be known as a property manager or resident manager. Typically they oversee the overall maintenance and repairs needed in a building with rental units. They don’t typically own the property, but they do manage it. The super and/or property manager will be able to handle a lot of issues that happen within the unit. 

Over-communicate your issues.

If a tenant lives in a private apartment or single-family home and the landlord is the point of contact, Rachlin suggests going through as many forms of communication as possible when you’re having trouble getting a response. 

“Always keep a paper trail,” she says. “After you’ve gone through calling and texting, I would do something that has to be signed for, such as FedEx or certified mail through USPS.” Rachlinalso suggests keeping a copy of the letter that you send through the mail. 

Keeping a paper trail of attempted communication will be important if the issue continues to go unresponded and ends up in landlord-tenant court. “You don’t want to go to court,” Rachlin says. “But you have to do whatever you can to get to your owner. There are those landlords that let things go for a long time.”

Don’t stop paying your rent.

Rachlin strongly cautions against failing to pay rent on time. “You should never stop paying rent,” she says. “Once you have a lease, you’re not allowed to not pay rent, and legally it might make things more difficult for you.” 

Unfortunately, sometimes renters may have to adjust their expectations for living with certain issues in their apartment when they aren’t hearing back from their landlord. For instance, it’s a legal requirement that homeowners maintain proper heat in the apartments or homes that they rent out. But some other nuisances, such as a broken refrigerator or ant infestation, might not be legally covered, or covered by the lease agreement. Tenants may find themselves footing the bill for an exterminator before they’re able to get in touch with their super or landlord.

If possible, do your research before renting an apartment or home.

Rachlin also suggests taking proactive steps prior to signing a lease. “I Google everybody,” she says. “See if you can make sure that there are no liens on the property and that their bills get paid on time. You have a right to do a little investigation on your own.”

If you’re working with a broker, they will be a good resource for you, even after you’ve moved in.

Getting ghosted by your landlord can be a tough situation. “If someone isn’t going to answer you and you’re already living there, there aren’t that many options,” Rachlin says. “You can report your landlord to the Better Business Bureau, take them to landlord-tenant court, write a bad review, but that’s not going to solve your problem.” 

The most important thing is that a disgruntled tenant continues to pay their rent on time and maintain a paper trail. Hopefully your landlord will get back to you before you have to take them to court.