What are the landlord’s maintenance responsibilities?

By Tenant

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

10 Responses to “What are the landlord’s maintenance responsibilities?”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 13th, 2013 10:40 pm

What I’ve learned from the many years of being a tenant is that when it’s normal wear and tear, your landlord will be responsible for the repair. If it’s because of your irresponsibility, you will be charged for the repair.


February 14th, 2013 4:40 am

The only loophole I see here is that the major repairs that need to be done are mainly structural in nature. What about bedbugs? I think these are major things that the landlord has to be responsible for too. But laws on who pays for the bedbug treatment are not yet very much polished that landlord and tenants often dispute because of the issue.


February 14th, 2013 10:40 am

Basically, if you noticed that there was a problem and you did not notify your landlord and then the problem got worse, then your landlord may charge you for the repair. So always be watchful of the things in your apartment. Take care of them and they will take care of your security deposit.


February 14th, 2013 4:40 pm

Let me add that if you notify your landlord, make sure that you do that in writing so in case he does not fix the problem and it gets worse, your LL can’t put the blame on you.


February 14th, 2013 10:40 pm

And take pictures of everything when you moved in and when you moved back out. Just record everything!


February 15th, 2013 4:40 am

Before signing anything, make sure that you read the rental agreement through and through. Some landlords would try to make you waive your right for repairs so you have to be extra careful.


February 15th, 2013 10:40 am

It’s easy to know the difference between a normal wear and tear and a damage caused by your irresponsibility. Broken windows are a good example of repairs that will be charged to you, unless some strong wind blew a tree branch into your apartment and broke the glass.


February 15th, 2013 4:40 pm

I agree. If the landlord refuses to do repairs, file a complaint. It is your basic right as a tenant to do that. I know some court would even appreciate it if you file a complaint first and tried to settle the problem outside of court.


February 15th, 2013 10:40 pm

It is always best to check your landlord’s history by asking previous and current tenants before you sign anything. That makes you prepared to deal with a landlord.


February 16th, 2013 4:40 am

Aside from taking all the needed precautions before signing a deal, it may also be wise to get renter’s insurance.


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