Where can I file a complaint against my landlord?

Sound off, girl

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There’s no denying it — apartment living comes with some major pros and cons. Some of the perks are that apartments are generally a more affordable option if you are saving money to buy your own house one day. Additionally, apartment amenities can be plentiful. From rooftop pools and fully-equipped gyms to pet services and gated garages, apartment complexes can exceed all of your expectations. 

Large apartment complexes are growing more and more popular — especially in big cities. With that being said, because apartment complexes are often large, that means they can come with day-to-day living challenges. 

Noisy neighbors can keep you up all night and littered hallways can be unappealing to come home to. There are a number of reasons why you may need to file a complaint against your landlord. While it’s an unfortunate spot to be in, it’s better to be vocal about the things that are bothering you rather than suffer through a stressful living environment. 

Here, we’re highlighting exactly how to file a complaint against your landlord — don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself! 

What can I complain about? 

There are a number of situations that can provide you with the means to move forward with filing a formal complaint about your landlord or apartment complex. This list includes some of the most common reasons for submitting a complaint:

Complaints are not limited to this list but these will warrant a more formal complaint than an upstairs neighbor who always seems to be making noise. These issues should be taken very seriously by your landlord and/or leasing company. To give your complaint the most impact, you'll want to follow the steps outlined below.

Don’t ditch the details 

When you’re dealing with an apartment issue, it’s important that you keep detailed documents of everything going on in your space. Before proceeding with your complaint to either your landlord or management company, compile all of your documents and present them in an organized manner. 

If there are visible damages or neglect to your living space that need to be addressed, take photos of them. If there is an ongoing situation that you can see or hear, you can also try to get video proof. 

Additionally, be sure to log any phone calls or discussions with a property manager or a landlord when you have them. It’s also smart to follow up on any conversations with a recap email so all interactions are documented in writing. You don't want to be in an unfortunate situation if you have to break the lease.

Apartment complex complaints 

If you live in an apartment complex, filing a complaint may be a multi-step process — don’t let this intimidate you! There is likely a property manager who is your designated contact in the building. You should start all complaints with this person. When your issue goes above and beyond an issue that can be solved by this individual, you should file your complaint to the company of the property. As mentioned above, this complaint should be in writing and sent via email or mail directly to the holding company.  

Filing a complaint with a landlord  

If you deal with a landlord directly for all of your living needs or concerns, you should have your complaint conversation with them first. Prior to this meeting, make sure that you read your lease and understand all the terms and conditions and also understand what rights you have as a tenant. 

Come to the meeting prepared and knowledgeable about what is already contractual. If a meeting, conversation, or email does not solve your issue, you will need to file a complaint with a government agency. How you go about this will vary state by state, so be sure you research where to submit this claim based on where you live.

One important tip when dealing with your landlord is to maintain your status as a good tenant. Although you may want to give them a taste of their own medicine, you don’t want to give them any grounds to create a case against you. 

If you want to proceed with filing a formal complaint, it might be necessary to seek legal advice before proceeding. It’s possible that your complaint could elevate to small claims court. When dealing with complex parties or situations, professionals will have your best interest at heart. 

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including townandcountrymag.com, elledecor.com, goodhousekeeping.com, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.