One good thing that comes with being a renter is having a number of maintenance issues taken care of at someone else’s expense. You don’t have to maintain the garden, snow removal is automatically taken care of, and leaky faucets aren’t your problem. But where is the line? At what point do you think to yourself, “maybe I should fix this?”. Here’s a quick guide for issues that are definitely your responsibility.
1. Flea extermination—even if you pay a pet fee
Your pet fee doesn’t automatically make your landlord responsible for any damage your pet may cause. If you bring in fleas, be prepared to eliminate them yourself. It’s not tough to keep flea medicine on your fur babies, and it’s not expensive to keep your place flea free. While your landlord is responsible for eliminating bugs like roaches and ants, it is not on them to bomb your apartment when you fail to properly treat your pets for fleas.
2. Carpet stains or floor scratches beyond normal wear and tear
So, you slid the couch across the floor to vacuum under it. You slide it back into place and notice something different… you scratched up the floor. Or worse yet, your pulled up the carpet or the lyonium. Your landlord expects to repair or replace floors every few years because of regular, everyday use. But if you damage them outside of normal wear and tear, you should be prepared to fix the floors. Spill red wine? Don’t ask your landlord to clean it up. That ones on you.
3. Damage to walls or ceilings
Did you put nails in the wall to hang up your favorite painting even after the landlord specifically asked you not too? Or worse, did you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day inside, even when you knew you weren’t supposed to smoke indoors? Both of these things are not the responsibility of your landlord to take care of. When you move out, repaint the place yourself or prepare to have it taken out of your deposit. For major repairs, you should pay for the work and fess up. Tell your landlord what happened and explain that you’ll rectify the situation with professionals.
4. Broken appliances you’ve misused
If you tend to close the dishwasher with your foot, sooner or later it’s going to break. If you throw things you know shouldn’t go down your garbage disposal and it breaks, that’s on you as well. Misuse also includes things like using the wrong type of detergent in a front-loading washer. Buy the right detergent, even if it is a little more expensive. It will save you down the road.
5. Locks or windows you broke when you’d lost your keys
It’s true that the law requires your landlord to maintain security by replacing broken locks or windows. But if you’re the one who breaks ’em, you’ll be the one paying for ’em. “So next time you get locked out, take the time to call a locksmith or building maintenance, or leave a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbor.
6. Clogged drains
Some clogs are unavoidable or caused by defective plumbing. To avoid trouble, never use your toilet to toss out kitty’s litter, paper towels, or dental floss. And if you live with kids or invite them over, keep the lid down—you never know what they’ll throw in there. Learn how to use a plunger and liquid drain cleaner, and keep both handy. Otherwise, be prepared to pay a pricey plumber’s bill.
7. A furnace that’s on the fritz because you didn’t change the filters
Change your filter out occasionally folks. Most landlords will even do this for you at your request if you can spare the $10. Changing it out a few times a year is far cheaper and easier than insisting your landlord send over an HVAC pro to tune up or fix your system. If a pro comes over to fix a failed furnace or air conditioner and finds an ancient, clogged filter, they’re going to know right away what caused the problem.
8. Accidental water damage
Landlords are definitely responsible for repairing flood damage after a major rain storm or a random pipe failure. But don’t expect the landlord to fix the water damage when you’ve created. When it comes to flooding, the culprit is typically pretty clear: If it wasn’t Mother Nature, it was probably you.