Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jan 9, 2022

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The Lowdown

  • Landlords have to follow federal and state laws, which requires that they provide a livable space
  • For minor complaints, it might be easier on renters to simply terminate their lease and find a new home
  • If your landlord is breaking the Fair Housing Act, you can report them to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • If your warranty of habitability or right to quiet enjoyment is being infringed, you can sue your landlord in small claims court

Millions of Americans rent their homes. From apartment complexes to home rental companies and even private landlords, most people will rent their home from someone at some point in their lives.

While everyone hopes for an easy time with their living arrangement, that’s not always the case. If you find yourself wondering how to report your landlord for negligence, criminal behaviors, or any other abuses, it’s easy to feel frustrated and isolated.

However, it’s not impossible to report your landlord and see actions that result in real changes for you and your family. Your landlord might not be forthcoming about who to speak to, but reporting issues is not as hard as you might think.

If you’re wondering how to get your landlord in trouble, you might want to consider renters insurance to protect your belongings. If you need renters insurance and want to see what quotes might look like for you, enter your ZIP code into our free tool.

Should you report your landlord?

The first question to ask is if reporting your landlord is worth the trouble. Most rental contracts in America have a start and end date, and they don’t automatically renew. If your landlord is the equivalent of a bad customer service experience, you can always leave when your contract is up.

However, leaving at the end of your contract might not be feasible for you. Most rental agreements require a deposit (first, and sometimes first and last month’s rent), as well as a security deposit. If you have animals, they usually take a pet deposit.

On top of the costs for a new apartment, you’ll also need to pack up and move. Hiring movers can cost a few hundred dollars, and truck rentals can be pricey, too.

At the very least, you’ll spend your free time packing and moving, potentially missing out on income if you take time off.

Not every family can afford to move into a new apartment at the end of a lease. If moving is financially impossible, it might be worth it to put up with your landlord’s bad behavior.

Of course, ignoring the landlord only applies to petty problems, like obnoxious behavior, minor repairs going undone, or similar events. If you follow all the rules of your contract and the landlord threatens you or breaks the law, you shouldn’t ignore the problem.

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Where can I file a complaint against my landlord?

If your landlord has crossed the line one too many times and you’ve had enough, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is your best protection.

Landlords have to follow federal and state laws regarding renting a property. They might want you to think you are powerless, but you might be surprised by the rights you have.

If you need to report your landlord, you should go to your state’s HUD page and seek assistance. You might find help for free from a non-profit organization. Otherwise, you’ll probably need legal assistance.

What federal laws do landlords have to follow?

Three primary federal laws keep renters safe:

  • The Fair Housing Act
  • The warranty of habitability
  • The right to quiet enjoyment

These federal laws have to be obeyed by landlords, regardless of whether they are specified in your rental contract. You have a clear-cut reason to report your landlord if they break any of these rules.

The Fair Housing Act protects homebuyers and renters from discrimination in seven classes: race, national origin, gender, familial status, color, religion, and disability.

If a landlord refuses to rent to you, holds you to different standards, or refuses you specific services in a discriminatory fashion, the Fair Housing Act will protect you.

The warranty of habitability states that landlords can only rent out livable spaces. The details depend on your state, but it generally includes smoke detectors, hot water, electricity, plumbing, drinking water, heat, and no infestations. The building also needs to meet local building codes.

You need to report problems first to give your landlord a chance to fix them. Again, it depends on the state, but landlords usually have a time limit of 30 days to fix serious problems.

Finally, the right to quiet enjoyment means your landlord has to give you space – they can’t use the property for their own needs while you are renting there.

What are the most common reasons people report landlords?

While there are numerous reasons to report a landlord, these are the most common.

  • Pest infestation. As part of the warranty of habitability, severe infestations make a property unlivable. Your landlord must secure an exterminator to handle the problem. If they don’t, you should, then sue later.
  • Security deposit. Security deposit laws vary by state, but your landlord usually has a 30-day window to return yours. If they don’t, they need to provide a reason with receipts why they’re keeping it. If they don’t, you should contact legal help.
  • Entering your home. As part of the right to quiet enjoyment, most rental properties specify that your landlord needs advanced notice to enter your home. If your landlord barges in unannounced, it could be considered harassment.
  • Neglecting repairs. Your landlord has a specific timeframe within which to repair problems that make your home unsafe or unlivable.

If your landlord is guilty of any of these, you definitely have cause to complain. Your next step is to complain to the right people.

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Who do I contact about landlord issues?

The easiest transgression to report is breaking the Fair Housing Act: simply visit your state’s HUD site. Other landlord issues are a little more complicated. Often, the best solution is to terminate the lease and leave.

However, you have other options. You can sue your landlord for repeated unannounced entry in small claims court.

You can also sue if your landlord refuses to make repairs. Since the legal system can take a long time to resolve, you can pay for the repairs yourself, then deduct them from your rent by providing a receipt to your landlord.

If you choose to deduct from your rent, make sure to keep a copy of all paperwork for yourself. Suing your landlord will likely bring out their petty side, and having copies of everything will help your case.

Before your sue your landlord, evaluate if the effort is worth it to you. You’ll need to commit at least your time, if not your money. And there’s always the chance you’ll lose, which means you’ll have to pay court fees.

Sometimes, the power to sue is enough. Tell your landlord you’re considering legal action since they can’t live up to their legal responsibilities. That might be enough to jumpstart better behavior.

How do you sue your landlord?

You might think the process is complicated, but it’s relatively straightforward.

First, you need to check in with your state’s laws about small claims court. You’ll need information on how much you can sue for (there are limits) and the necessary forms to fill out.

Next, you file your complaint with the clerk’s office and pay all related fees (usually a flat filing fee). They send the complaint to your landlord, and you wait for them to respond.

If no answer comes, you go to court and present your case to a judge without them.

If they answer, your landlord will likely go to court and file a counterclaim. This is where keeping copies of everything you do comes in handy: you present your evidence to the judge. The judge will make a decision, and the process is complete.

Renters Insurance to Protect Your Home

Renters insurance is a requirement in many states, but you should have it even if it isn’t. It’s generally cheap, and it protects all the belongings within your rented home.

Usually, people get renters insurance to protect against fires and theft. However, negligent landlords can be just as harmful to your belongings as a fire. Renters insurance can help cover the costs of replacing items damaged from infestations and neglected repairs. As a bonus, renters insurance typically doesn’t cost very much.

While you’re working on how to get your landlord in trouble, you should take a few minutes to shop around for renters insurance. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool if you want to see what quotes might look like for you.