Being a renter has many advantages in the realm of responsibilities. Basically, you have very little. Now that is not to say you get off scotch free or do not have to act like a well adjusted adult. However, when it comes to fixing broken appliances, purging your home of bugs and critters or any other non-human afflicted issue (meaning you did not cause the roof to leak or broke a window), those are all things that your landlord is in charge of.
Your main responsibility is to inform your landlord of any issues in your rental space; that is where acting like a big boy or girl comes in. You also want to follow up to make sure they are aware and in process of fixing any issues you may have in a timely manner.
Your landlord is not a maid or butler, you do not have to call them about every little thing. So what exactly do you need to make them aware of?
Any appliances that come with the home or unit are the responsibility of the landlord or property manager. What goes without saying is, however, just because a part breaks or is worn out and needs replacing, does not mean you are entitled to a brand new piece of equipment. Their job is to make sure you have working appliances that meet your needs, not your wants.
Maybe your rental comes with a microwave, but not a toaster. That is not a responsibility of the landlord. In most rentals you are welcome to bring whatever appliance you want that may not be provided. However, anything that you bring is then your responsibility to keep in working order.
One of the more important appliances that your landlord is required by law to maintain is your furnace and/or air conditioner. Before signing any lease it is important to understand your state legislature, they can vary with these specific appliances.
Bottom line, read before you sign and if you are still unsure after you are in your new rental, just ask your landlord. Any great property manager or landlord is there to help.
Water Damage and Mold
Repeat after me, safe and livable housing. That is the number one thing your landlord is responsible to provide for you. Water damage and mold is one that does not have a lot of legislative backing, which makes it hard to determine responsibility. The best thing you can do is always report.
Most people do not know the differences between mold or fully understand the potential health problems that can arise from exposure. What is even more important than reporting, is making sure you and the landlord find the source of the mold or water damage, otherwise the problem will keep returning.
Keep in mind as well, this is one area that could come back to be on you to handle. If the landlord can prove that the water damage or mold is due to your negative cleaning habits or failure to report any new leaks, then it can all legally be on you to resolve.
Pest control can be a tricky one based on what state you live in. Now, when you are sitting on your couch watching tv and see a big palmetto bug or spider run across your living room floor, do not pick up the phone and demand your landlord come kill the bug. Everyone home deals with bugs on a daily basis. But if a large area or room in your rental has numerous insect nests or there are holes that clearly are homes to bugs, then yes your landlord should be made aware.
No matter the kind of infestation you have, it is good to let your landlord know so they can help you determine the next step. Again, it is important to read your lease and state laws to know who is going to be responsible. While you may think it is on them to come spray your porch for spiders, it may not be on them legally to do so. Having a clear understanding going into your rental will help you keep cool calm and collected when you see any unwanted guests.
“But My Landlord Won’t Cooperate With Me?!”
This does happen. So here are some ideas for when you feel you are not being treated fairly.
No issue is a small issue; it is always better to be safe than sorry. Maybe that tiny leak under your sink is something you could fix. But it is best to inform the landlord and let them handle it to protect you in the long run.
Keep a paper trail. Always put requests in writing so you can hold both parties accountable.
Renters Insurance. This is important! Every person on the planet thinks, “Oh, that won’t happen to me,” until it does. Again, better to be safe than sorry.
Know who and where your local tenants’ rights organizations are. They can help you understand your state laws and get the right people involved if there are serious issues not being addressed.
Take pictures on your move in day or schedule a walk through with your landlord so you can both take note of the condition of the rental prior to you moving in. Any pre-existing issues are absolutely their responsibility. Whether you are a college student renting an apartment, or out on your own for the first time renting a home, having documentation of the rental before you move in will help protect you and the landlord.