Apartment complexes can sometimes offer great amenities, but what happens when those amenities don’t work or your property management company doesn’t provide proper maintenance? If you encounter a situation in your building that needs to be resolved and that has an impact on your quality of life, here is when and how you can file a complaint.
Situations in which you might file a complaint against an apartment complex
When you are a plaintiff or a tenant in an apartment complex, you may experience problems in your accommodation and feel the need to file a formal complaint. Some of these situations can include:
- Harassment or invasion of privacy by the landlord, property management team or maintenance staff
- Violate state landlord-tenant laws or federal fair housing laws
- Breach of lease terms and rental policies
- Abusive termination of your lease
- Non-respect of the implicit guarantee of habitability of the State
- Failure or refusal to repair necessary features of a rental unit, such as plumbing, HVAC, appliances, structural integrity issues, etc.
- Failure or refusal to address health and safety issues in public spaces
- Failure to disclose issues that cause significant health problems
- Refusal to automatically recover all or part of a security deposit after a move
- Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, sexuality, disability, family status, etc.
- Unfair denial of a rental request
- Withholding or unfair treatment of a security deposit or rental application fee
How to file a complaint against an apartment complex
If you are ready to file a complaint, there are steps you can take. Please note that this article should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice and that you should always consult a lawyer before initiating legal action. Here are some of the steps you can take to effectively file a complaint against an apartment complex:
Contact the property management company
Perhaps your problem is with a member of the maintenance staff or a member of the property management team. In this case, you can discuss the problem with the property manager. If your issue is not resolved or relates to the property manager, you can contact the company headquarters by email, phone call, regular mail, or comment or complaint form through their website.
While either of these options is fine for initial contact about a problem, it may be preferable to have the company’s formal response to the complaint in writing. This means that two of your best options for making a complaint are a formal written letter sent to head office or an email.
File a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The HUD is responsible for ensuring that all citizens have equal access to safe and habitable housing, including rentals. You can file a complaint against an apartment complex owner or property management company through the HUD website. This complaint resource allows you to report unsafe housing conditions and landlords who fail to take care of the units or buildings they rent out, leaving unsightly properties around town.
Specific issues you can (and should) report to the HUD include:
- On-site security issues with the property
- Safety issues or concerns about the property manager or landlord
- Health hazards
- Security deposit unfairly withheld
- Discrimination during the application process or during the lifetime of the rental
File with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB uses ratings and reviews to show a company’s reliability in the industry and to consumers. Property management companies know that a BBB rating can be a big determining factor when a tenant, seller, or potential employee makes the decision to do business with them. Therefore, many companies take their BBB ratings very seriously. You might consider filing a complaint with the BBB to pressure the property management company to resolve your issue.
File a complaint with an industry ethics body
Property management companies are often registered with a national industry organization to show their reliability to potential tenants. These potential clients can refer to the organization’s website to better understand the quality of service of the property management company. The National Association of Residential Property Managers is an organization where you can file a complaint against a real estate company. This organization takes all complaints to the board of directors, which determines whether or not the company has adhered to the ethical standards of the organization.
File a complaint with a city housing or rental service
You can also call, write or fill out a complaint form with a local government department in the city in which the property is located. Here are some services you might consider contacting, depending on your situation:
- Department of Human Rights: You would file a complaint with this service if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc.
- Construction services: Contact this service if there are structural issues in your building that the owner or property management company has refused to resolve or has waited too long to resolve.
- Lodging: Some large cities have a housing department where you can file a complaint about unfair housing, mismanagement, and other similar issues.
Know your rights and consider legal action if necessary
Review your state and local laws and consider speaking with a legal professional. You can consult a lawyer at any stage of the complaint process for advice and ideas on how to approach these situations sensitively and with caution.
Knowing what constitutes and does not constitute a formal complaint can ensure that you are following the right protocols and registering your complaint with the right agency. This ensures that your negative experience is documented with the correct agency or other powers that be. While having negative experiences with an apartment complex or a landlord can be daunting and difficult, these situations provide you with lessons that you can learn from.
- 1 Situations in which you might file a complaint against an apartment complex
- 2 How to file a complaint against an apartment complex
- 2.1 Contact the property management company
- 2.2 File a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- 2.3 File with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- 2.4 File a complaint with an industry ethics body
- 2.5 File a complaint with a city housing or rental service
- 2.6 Know your rights and consider legal action if necessary