How to Handle Common Apartment Issues

October 25, 2019

For various reasons, many people rent rather than buy. While renting may not have certain perks of homeownership – things like freedom to paint or take down a wall, for example – there are certain benefits to renting. For instance, a renter doesn’t have to worry about fixing the A/C when it breaks down. But how do you know what is your responsibility and what is not when renting? Here’s a short breakdown of what the landlord or super takes care of, and which responsibilities are yours to handle.

Jobs of the Super

The good news is that most situations involving maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the landlord or super. Have a leaky faucet? Call the super. Refrigerator not working properly? Super. Mold? All these are only your responsibility to report, not fix. Here are things that the landlord or super takes care of, as long as you call and give them the heads-up:

  • Plumbing issues: Provided the bill is being paid, landlords are required to provide running water, including a water heater. So, if you have a plumbing issue or if your hot water suddenly runs out, call the super.
  • Vital services: It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that, in addition to plumbing, all heating, electrical, gas, and supplied appliances are maintained and in working order. So, if your refrigerator starts making a loud noise in the middle of the night, time to call the super.
  • Building codes are up-to-par: These include mold, lead paint, and asbestos issues, pest infestations, properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, plumbing and electrical work, and structural integrity. So, if you get a crack in the ceiling, or if you start seeing black spots where there weren’t any before, you know who to call.
  • Repairs: Landlords are required to ensure that the property is in a habitable condition, which includes reasonable repairs. If the repair is needed due to abuse from the tenant, the landlord can charge the tenant for the repair. If the repair is necessary from normal wear and tear, the landlord takes care of it.
  • Common areas: Areas for use by all tenants of the property must be safe, clean, and maintained. This includes everything from trash services to pool cleaning. So, if you notice a staircase banister that seems a little shaky, call the super.

Gray Area

There is one gray area when it comes to property maintenance: snow shoveling. According to the New York Department of Sanitation, building owners and tenants are responsible for removing snow and ice outside of their building. There are strict guidelines for when and how this should be done, and if not followed, a fine is given. According to spokeswoman Belinda Mager, if the snow isn’t cleared, “the ticket’s probably going to be written to the owner at the end of the day.” To be on the safe side, talk to the landlord about who is responsible for clearing the snow.

Your Role While Renting

With the super taking care of all that, what is left for you to do? Mostly common sense things, like buy lightbulbs, keep a plunger in your bathroom, don’t be the cause of apartment issues (ex. don’t throw trash in the toilet, don’t pour grease down the shower drain, etc.). There is something called the Landlord-Tenant Law, which provides legal guidelines for tenants. General rules include the following:

  • Keep the apartment safe: In other words, don’t block exits, and don’t tamper with smoke detectors.
  • Keep the apartment sanitary: Tenants are required to take out their trash and not let it pile up. This helps prevent health issues and pest problems, and it ensures your friends still want to come over.
  • Keep up with codes: Meaning, if there are only two people on your lease, you can’t sneak in a third. This also applies to help prevent mold by, for example, keeping a window open while taking a shower, as well as lead paint issues. If your building was built before 1978, you might not be able to paint or drill holes in the wall lest you disturb potential lead paint.
  • Respect the property: Aside from keeping your apartment clean and safe, respecting the property means using plumbing fixtures properly (again, no throwing trash in the toilet). Additionally, maintaining supplied appliances – keeping them clean and using them properly (so, no washing your clothes in the dishwasher). 

There is one more thing, and this is important: smelling gas. If you smell gas, leave immediately. Don’t flip any switches or turn anything on or off – it could cause a spark. Do not call anyone until you are safely away from the property – your cellphone could also create a spark. Leave the door open so that the gas dissipates. When you are safely away from the property, call the utility emergency line. They will have someone come out immediately to assess and deal with the situation.

Now that you know the ins and outs of responsibilities while renting, time to get to the fun part – decorating. Read about the latest trends in interior design to get great new ideas for your apartment.

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