How to File a Complaint Against a Property Manager

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated December 14, 2018
Property manager giving keys to renter

Filing a complaint against a property manager involves contacting the appropriate rental housing authorities, such as federal or local housing agencies. If your complaint and rental type don't fall under the jurisdiction of housing agencies, you may need to consult an attorney or seek free legal aid for tenants. A formal complaint can compel a manager to resolve an existing problem, but it could also escalate to legal action with serious consequences to the manager.

Let HUD Help

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, is the federal housing authority that oversees various types of rental activity, such as Section 8 subsidized housing and multifamily housing projects. If you have a problem with a property manager and you live in federally assisted housing, you can file a complaint with HUD for free. The department investigates the most serious cases and can fine, or even bar, a landlord or property manager from doing business with the federal government. Anyone can file a complaint with HUD – you do not have to live in federal housing to report a property manager for:

  • poor maintenance
  • health and safety hazards
  • mismanagement 
  • fraud
  • housing discrimination

Contact HUD's Multifamily Housing Complaint Line at 800-685-8470. A clearinghouse specialist can help you more effectively address your problem with the property manager or refer you to your local public housing agency or other appropriate organization, depending on your circumstances.

You can also contact your local HUD regional or field office. The HUD website provides a list of all offices with addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Fair Housing Complaints and HUD

A fair housing complaint involves discrimination against current or potential tenants based on any of the following:

  • disability
  • familial status
  • sex, gender or sexual orientation
  • religion
  • national origin
  • race, color or ethnicity

If you think your property manager is violating fair housing laws, file a complaint with HUD by phone at 800-669-9777 or by mailing a letter to Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, 451 Seventh St. SW, Room 5204, Washington, D.C. 20410-2000. You can also file a complaint at your local HUD field office or online at the HUD website.

If your complaint constitutes a violation of the Fair Housing Act, a HUD specialist will contact you for additional information to complete the review and possibly help you file a fair housing complaint. You can find an overview of how the fair housing complaint process works on the HUD website.

Other Avenues to Explore for Housing Issues

You can pay a third party, such as a landlord-tenant attorney in your area or an online company that specializes in mediating for a fee, to help you fix your problem with a property manager. You might also be able to obtain free legal help from a local tenant advocacy group or organization. Ask at your local courthouse or do an online search for "free tenant help" in your city or county.

About the Author

Karina C. Hernandez is a licensed real estate agent since 2004 in San Diego. She has written legal articles pertaining to housing and real estate for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA.

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