When you move into an older dwelling, you should probably expect the building to show a little wear and tear due to the building’s age. What you don’t expect to find, and rightly shouldn’t is a huge mess left by a previous tenant, unsanitary conditions such as insect infestation, or abnormal wear that has allowed the unit to fall into a state of disrepair. A responsible landlord will not usually allow such conditions to occur, but oftentimes people have very different standards.
As a tenant, you should know your rights
The bottom line is, there are almost always going to be some landlord – tenant problems to be dealt with. As a tenant, you should know your rights, as well as your responsibilities to these issues. Sometimes, things are the responsibility of the tenant and not the landlord. The following are examples of some tenant landlord problems, and suggestions on how they may best be dealt with.
- Water Leaks – Most problems can wait until normal working hours before you contact the landlord. However, a major water leak can have devastating effects and cause notable damage in a relatively short period of time. It is usually your responsibility to ensure that problems with the property do not escalate. Calling the landlord immediately about such problems can help ensure you are not held responsible.
- Broken Smoke Detectors – In most states, smoke detectors are required in rental units, and landlords are responsible to ensure they do indeed exist in good working order. However, before you call the landlord in the middle of the night, a good tenant will ensure the problem isn’t something as simple as a dead battery.
- Plumbing Problems – Your landlord is responsible to ensure the plumbing in your unit is proper and up to code. However, you should consider a clogged sink or toilet your responsibility.
- Structurally Deficient Floors, Stairways, or Roofs – Most states have laws mandating your landlord maintain their rental property in a structurally sound condition. This means if you find your roof is leaking, your floor is cracked and rotting, or the stairs leading to your apartment are loose and wobbly, you should contact your landlord immediately.
- Heating and Cooling Systems – You will probably find your state mandates a minimum indoor temperature during the winter months. If you notice the heat is not operating correctly, especially on extremely cold days, you should contact your landlord immediately.
- Pest Control – Are there rodents or insects infesting your apartment or home? If so, your landlord may be responsible for providing an adequate extermination service. However, if your personal living habits are the cause of the issue, (for example lack of adequate housekeeping or cleaning) you may be held partially or wholly responsible.