One of the perks of renting an apartment or house is that you aren’t responsible for much of the property maintenance. While renters are, of course, expected to keep a property clean, tenants are rarely required to fix damages or handle renovations.
However, there is a downfall to this dynamic. Though you don’t have to fit repairs into your own busy schedule, your landlord does. In some unfortunate cases, tenants end up waiting for days or even weeks for necessary repairs to their living space.
Maintaining a good relationship and open communication paths with your landlord is the best way to ensure that repairs are completed in a timely fashion. Use the following steps to politely ask your landlord for repairs to get the job done:
- Know What to Fix Yourself
Some items can be fixed by tenants without violating the lease agreement and without causing your landlord or leasing agent trouble. The Tenant’s Voice recommends trying to fix the following problems yourself before contacting the property manager:
- Changing Light Bulbs
- Changing Fuses
- Bleeding Radiators
- Tightening screws
- Re-hanging curtains and blinds
- Unclogging Drains
- Lubricating hinges
- Replacing smoke alarm batteries
- Don’t be Inconsiderate
If a problem arises that you can’t fix yourself, but that isn’t causing a major inconvenience, consider waiting before calling the landlord. Such a problem might be a broken cabinet door, drafty windows, or a leaky faucet. Cosmetic problems are better addressed in groups, so that the landlord doesn’t have to make several short trips for repairs. Remember that in some cases, you get what you pay for. According to the National Association of Home Builders, rental property managers are less likely to remodel than owner-occupied houses (31% versus 69%), so don’t expect the owner to make many big changes.
- Ask Casually First
If the problem needs to be addressed fairly soon, contact the landlord by calling them, or by stopping at their office if they have one. Be polite and explain the problem in detail, including how it is impacting your day-to-day activities. Showing faith that they will get problems fixed without accusations is a good way to maintain friendly terms.
- Put a Request in Writing
After your first request for a repair, wait a day or two. Check your lease agreement to see if the landlord promises repairs within a certain time frame. If you wait more than three days for important non-emergency fixes, send another request in writing via email, asking for an update on the repair process, and reemphasizing the inconvenience. Again, try to remain as polite as possible. If your landlord is still taking too long to fix an item, or ignoring your requests completely, you might need to take legal action as a last resort. Photograph the problem, ensure you have repair requests in writing, and refer to your lease agreement before contacting your local housing authority.
Remember, with any situation, patience is key. Use your best judgement, and try to avoid reaching out to authorities unless the landlord’s negligence is making your living space uninhabitable. With diligence and respect, most landlords will work with tenants to continue the rental relationship.