Tenants aren't responsible for most repairs, but there are a select few to be aware of. Let's review them and show you how to get 'em done!
So, you just read our article How to Elevate Your Apartment (Without Breaching the Lease). You may be wondering, “Ok, but what if I damage something while sprucing up my apartment? Will my landlord be responsible? Will I?”
Those are great questions! Luckily, we have answers — and they may surprise you.
The Repairs Renters Need to be Aware of
The truth is, there aren’t many repairs renters are responsible for. Your landlord will be accountable for most things that go wrong in your home. They will incur the costs and coordinate repairs with your superintendent and/or contracted professionals.
What it comes down to is: “normal wear and tear” vs. “damages”. There’s no guarantee that every landlord will have identical definitions of either of these things, but there are some generally accepted rules of thumb that are safe for you to follow.
Here are a few fixes to be aware of and how to accomplish them!
Damages aka Misuse of Property
Yup, if you break it… you buy it — so to speak. This can relate to a range of issues; here are some of the more common ones.
Let’s say you’re moving some furniture around and you leave a big ol’ scratch on your floor. Your landlord’s not gonna help you out there.
Luckily for us, the good folks at Apartment Therapy have a detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean and fix scratched floors. (Heads up, you’ll need the following: sandpaper, hard wax or wood filler, wood stain, and a clear sealing pen.)
Holes in Walls
It’s pretty common to incur holes in your walls from screws and nails. (At least we hope those are the only holes in your walls. 👀) Here’s a simple protocol for dealing with that.
Now, let’s say you’ve got some HOLES — like, the size of a golf ball or bigger.
Once you’ve stopped hosting mosh pits in your living room, you can get to work on repairs. Apartmentguide.com has a great how-to that covers fixing even large holes.
A broken window is an accountability gray area when it comes to renting — it could be your landlord’s responsibility, but it also could be yours. If it’s clearly your fault, and especially if there is proof it’s your fault, you’ll have to handle this one yourself.
Now, this ain’t some hole in a wall. This is shattered glass — you’re not going to be able to fill this in. Do patch it up in the meantime, but eventually you’ll need to call in a pro to repair or replace the window. If you live in an apartment building, that means you’ll need to ring the maintenance team to be sure you get windows that match the rest of the units.
If you’re renting a home, you’ll likely need to source a contractor. There is an option to DIY, but we’re not sure we’d be so daring. 😬
Clogged Toilet Due to Flushing Unflushables
You’ve probably had your landlord call a plumber for you before. They took care of everything, and you weren’t responsible for the costs. That’s how things typically go.
However, if you tried to flush, say, an orange (just go with us here)... you’re gonna pay. Some things aren’t meant to be flushed, and common sense is expected. Your landlord should be happy to coordinate assistance if that common sense is used, but if it’s discovered that you knowingly did something damaging to the toilet – you’re going to be responsible for it.
If your toilet is beyond being helped by a plunger and a snake, we suggest you call our friend The Contractor (and be prepared to pay). If you wanna tackle it yourself, Family Handyman has a set of directions that even get into “Major Toilet Surgery”.
Replacing Bulbs, Detectors, and Etc.
This is an easy one: “Consumables” — light bulbs, smoke detectors, etc. Here are some things to consider, beyond screwing in a new bulb and replacing batteries.
We’re sure you don’t need a how-to for changing your light bulbs (right?), but what if you need to actually fix a broken light fixture? Depending on the issue, this can be a complex and daunting task, but it can be done!
(Speaking of screwing in a bulb, we recommend making the switch to energy-saving LED bulbs if you haven’t yet done that. Here’s a list of popular options.)
Fixdrepair.com’s article will help you establish some best practices for managing and maintaining your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We love proactive fixes for you!
Remember: Most repairs will fall on your landlord. That said, we hope this primer prepared you for those few times they may fall on you.
Here’s another helpful hint: Download Sparetoolz to get the tools you need — ASAP and without breaking the bank. (Because that’s a fix we can’t help you with.)