What are the landlord’s maintenance responsibilities?


Under most state laws, landlords are given the responsibility of providing housing that satisfied the set requirements for habitability. Habitability requirements include adequate weatherproofing, structurally safe buildings, available water, heat and electricity and clean and sanitary premises. Other than the state laws, local building codes will also set the standards for the minimum requirements for ventilation, light and electrical wiring.

However, your landlord also has rights and there are laws that protect them from unjust repairs. So let’s take a look as to what kinds of repairs your landlords are and are not entitled to do.

- Major repairs

These are usually repairs revolving around the heating and plumbing in your home. Major repairs should be responded to and fixed within 24 hours. If the problem is just too big to possibly be repaired within 24 hours and you cannot stay in the apartment while it’s ongoing, your landlord may need to provide you with temporary housing. Of course, the availability of temporary housing would depend on your state tenant laws and your lease agreement.

Examples of major repairs are leaks from the bathroom of the apartment unit above you. If such a repair is not immediately responded to, the ceiling could become unstable and might collapse. Also, if the leaks reach your apartment, it could mean that you will not be able to use the appliances in the flooded room.

If a landlord refuses to do major repairs or if he forwards the costs to you, then you will be prompted to seek third-party assistance. Mediation companies like the RPA can help in this regard.

- Minor repairs

Minor repairs are also called “eye sores”. They are repairs that do not really challenge the safety of your apartment, but they look rather unpleasant. For example, small holes in the wall may not look nice but they may not be repaired by your landlord. Similarly, the stains on the ceiling or a broken faucet or any other repair that would cost $50 or less may not be repaired by your landlord.

In the event that you do the repairs yourself, you can negotiate for the costs to be deducted from your rent or that you be reimbursed. Moreover, your state may have a list of minor repairs that your landlord is required to do. For a list, you may need to check your local state laws or search them on the Internet.

- Is the landlord required to fix the damages I caused?

Well, your landlord is still bound by the law to make sure that you are living in a safe and healthy environment. But if the damages to your apartment were caused by you, your landlord may forward you the bill.

I hope that clarifies things up on who gets to be responsible for what.

Edited on: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 8:19 pm
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