One of the advantages of renting an apartment or house rather than owning your own property is that your landlord takes care of much of the maintenance. However, there are some things that tenants generally are responsible for, so it’s a good idea to read your lease and be clear on what the landlord responsibilities are and what your renter responsibilities are.
General maintenance and minor repairs
Tenants are responsible for keeping the rental unit in good shape and for using fixtures and appliances as they are intended. Tenants also are expected to take care of minor maintenance and repair items on their own, such as plunging clogged toilets or changing burned out light bulbs. However, issues that are beyond a tenant’s control, such as an appliance wearing out from normal use, are a landlord’s responsibility. A landlord typically would be liable for making small repairs, such as fixing a dripping faucet or a running toilet, but in many states, no law compels a landlord to make any repairs that do not endanger a renter’s health or safety
For any vital item in the rental that needs fixed or replaced, it is the landlord’s responsibility to do so in a timely manner. This includes appliances, lighting and electrical outlets that don’t work, plumbing issues and issues of safety, such as broken windows or door locks that don’t work. While it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure the item is fixed, if the tenant is responsible for the damage, then the tenant can and likely will be billed for the repairs. A landlord can delegate repairs to a tenant, requiring the tenant to pay if it is among renter responsibilities or deducting the amount from rent if it is among landlord responsibilities.
If you have a serious issue that needs attention, the landlord generally needs to make the repair within 24 hours. For such repairs, you should notify the landlord directly either in person or by phone and in writing. For minor repairs, you should notify the landlord in writing and give a reasonable time for the repair to be made, at least a week. If the landlord does not make the repair, check to see if your city has a “repair and deduct” law that allows you to make the repair yourself and deduct it from your rent. Make sure to document everything in writing. If your landlord does not make timely repairs, report the issue to the local health department or city code department.