Topic No. 260: Handling Repair Problems

The Rent Board has the authority to adjust a tenant's rent based on a lack of repairs and/or maintenance. However, the Rent Board cannot require the landlord to make repairs or to perform maintenance work. Only a City inspector can require the landlord to make repairs. In order to get repairs made by the landlord, we recommend using the following procedure:

  1. Write a letter to the landlord and list the problems you want fixed. Thirty days is considered reasonable for most repair work, although one or two days may be considered reasonable if the problem is critical, such as lack of heat during cold periods or a sewage back up.
  2. If the landlord fails to respond to your request or does not perform the repairs, then write a second letter and state that as a last resort, you may call a City inspector to file a complaint and that you may also file a petition with the Rent Board for a rent adjustment if the items are not repaired by a date that you think is reasonable.
  3. Be sure to document your efforts to get the repairs done; keep copies of all letters you send and keep a log of all phone calls and what was said.
  4. If the problem is not resolved within a reasonable time, then you should contact the Department of Building Inspection or the Department of Public Health to request an inspection. You may also file a Tenant Petition for a rent reduction based on a substantial decrease in housing services. In addition, if the inspector determines that the defective condition constitutes a code violation, you may ask the Rent Board to defer a proposed rent increase until the repair is made. Such a claim must be filed within 60 days of receiving a notice of proposed rent increase.

For more information on filing a Tenant Petition, refer to Fact Sheet 6. To receive a copy of Fact Sheet 6 and the Tenant Petition form, you can fax them to yourself through our Fax Back system by calling (415)252-4660 or visit our website at The Fact Sheet and petition form are also available at our office.


June 2006