The biggest issue tenants have with landlords is when the landlord fails to make repairs to the property. A tenant has to give the landlord notice of the need to repair. There is no magic language, something as simple as “the electrical outlet in the bedroom is broken” is fine. Check your lease, the landlord may have specified a certain email or web portal you have to use to report repairs. It is important that you tell the landlord that a repair is needed, in writing (email, web portal) as soon as you can.
Below I’ve included lists of things the landlord has to repair, may have to repair, and does not have to repair.
The landlord must repair anything that has to do with the building’s structure, electrical, plumbing, heat, and safety.
Examples of things the landlord has to repair are:
- Electrical outlets, light switches, and breaker panels.
- Toilets, sinks, showers, faucets, and anything that has to do with the plumbing.
- Structural components of the building such as the walls, the roof, the foundation, the floors, and stairs.
- Doors and windows, including locks and latches, that lead to the outside or lead to a public hallway.
- Anything that has to do with the fire safety system, such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, and sprinklers.
- Any railing, handrail, banister, or decking that helps prevent people from falling.
- The heat, but not the air conditioner.
- Anything required to be repaired by any health, safety, or building code.
The landlord will typically have to repair things like appliances that are attached to the unit and came with it but only if one of the two situations are true.
If the lease specifically says the landlord will provide the appliance OR if the home or apartment came with the appliance and the appliance was in working order when the tenant moved in. If one of the two above conditions are true, the landlord will have to repair:
- Kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and built-in microwaves.
- Laundry machines and clothes dryers, unless these machines are owned by the tenant.
- The air conditioner.
There are some things that are the tenant’s responsibility, not the landlord’s.
You will need to repair these things yourself. If in doubt, ask the landlord to make the repair and see what they say. The landlord will typically not have to:
- Provide cleaning services for things like carpet or windows.
- Repair any appliance that the landlord did not provide to the tenant, such as a toaster or a coffee maker.
- Replace the light bulbs in the tenants lamps or light fixtures.
- Repair anything that is cosmetic, not a threat to health or safety, and was visibly defective when the tenant moved in.
Make sure you always make your repair requests in writing. Email is best.