Housing

What to do after you file rent escrow

Have you filed rent escrow with your local court, but your landlord still hasn't made the repairs? Here's how to take the next step with the court.

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After you start the rent escrow process with the court, your landlord might make the repairs you asked for. If your landlord makes the repairs, you can go to the court and sign a release form. This will allow the court to release your rent money to your landlord. 

If your landlord doesn't make the repairs, your next step depends on your local court.

Go to mediation

Some courts will schedule a mediation to help you and your landlord work out a solution. Mediation is way to resolve the problem, without having a formal hearing or trial. You should attend the mediation and try to work out the issues with your landlord. 

Some courts require that you file a motion with the court. If it's been 30 days since you filed and the repairs are not made, you should consider filing a motion with the court to take the next step. 

Ask the court to order repairs

File a motion with the court. A motion is a written request to the court. In your motion, you can ask the court to:

  • Order the landlord to make the repairs
  • Reduce your rent until the repairs are made
  • Release the money in the rent escrow account to you so that you can make the repairs yourself

Watch your mail for filings from your landlord

Sometimes landlords will file a complaint asking for the rent money to be released to them. Watch your mail for notification that your landlord has filed their own complaint. If your landlord has filed a complaint of their own, you must file a written response, called an answer, in 28 days. This response should explain that the rent money is in escrow based on the problems in your home. If you don’t file an answer, the court can decide in your landlord’s favor, even if the repairs haven’t been made.

Go to your hearing

The court will schedule a hearing. The court will set a date for you and the landlord to explain your sides of the story to a judge or magistrate. You should bring evidence to back up your claims. Good examples of evidence that you could bring are: 

  • The letter you wrote to the landlord before you filed your rent with the court. 
  • Reports on the condition of your home from housing enforcement or the health department if you asked them for an inspection. 
  • Any photos that you have taken of the bad conditions. If you have the photos on your phone, print them out.

At the hearing, the court will listen to your story and your landlord's story. Then the judge or magistrate will make a decision to resolve the problem.

Learn more about what you can expect when you go to court

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