As a renter, it is often hard to know what aspects of your home’s safety and soundness fall to you and which ones your landlord has to take care of. Read on for our breakdown of who’s responsible for what type of repairs and some advice on how to get the work taken care of.
What is my landlord responsible for?
Your landlord is responsible for keeping your home in a livable condition; keeping the structure of the building sound, including roof, floors and stairways; keeping the plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling systems working; assuring hot and cold water; and making sure the property is given proper extermination service for pests, if required. If you happen to have been using any aspect of your rented home or its systems improperly or created unhealthy conditions that attracted vermin, the cost may fall to you or be deducted from your rent. Unless the tenant has obviously mistreated the rental, the landlord is essentially responsible for all major repairs.
Who handles minor repairs?
Loose tiles, holes in floor boards or torn carpeting that could trip someone will easily fall to your landlord. But it’s in the realm of smaller repairs that don’t threaten anyone’s safety that things get murkier. Old paint, worn floors, leaky faucets and torn screens are annoying and cosmetically distracting, but who should shell out the money? If you haven’t already had a conversation with your landlord on the subject, check your lease agreement, local and state building codes or local landlord-tenant laws to see who should pay. Some landlords may have you make the repairs yourself and deduct it from your rent.
Even if your landlord has agreed to initiate repairs for minor problems, go ahead and submit a repair request to him or her. That way you’ll have a legal record of what work needed to be done and when you notified your landlord about it.
What if you can’t come to terms?
If your landlord is ignoring your requests for repairs, it’s time to get some help. Contact a mediation service, which will have you and your landlord sit down and come to terms, minus an imposed solution that a judge would issue.
If your landlord is unwilling to negotiate, you can report him to the local building or housing agency or sue him in small claims court. Keep in mind that these escalated solutions will make your stay in your rented home tense and your relations with your landlord decidedly sour — a concern if you’d like to stay for a while.
As a renter, you should expect that your landlord will make major repairs to your home. But if the problem is a minor one, communicate well with your landlord, put it in writing, and exercise your options to get it done.