Repairs and Damages

What can I do if when I go to move-in and the place is not in good condition?

If the rental does not meet your satisfaction do not move-in. Once you turn that key, set your stuff down and start sleeping there you have accepted the rental “as is”. You should call your landlord immediately and return the key if necessary to get your needs met. Once you accept the unit “as is” your landlord has little incentive to fix things or make changes.

Should I report mold to my landlord?

It would be wise however check your lease to see if there is anything there about mold. Some landlords require that you notify them if/when you see it because it can present a health hazard to residents. Regardless, it is in your best interest to take action against anything that may present a threat to your health.

Can I withhold rent if my landlord doesn’t fix something?

In certain circumstances tenants may withhold rent until a problem has been remedied. The repairs that are needed must be more serious than would justify use of the repair and deduct or abandonment remedies. This remedy carries the same legal restrictions and risks as the other two remedies.

Withholding rent does not mean that tenants may live in the premises rent-free. Depending on the nature of the problem, tenants may be entitled to a retroactive rent reduction. It is wise to consult with an advisor before considering this last resort.

If my apartment is vandalized or broken into who is responsible, the landlord or me?

If the unit is secured with locks (i.e. dead bolts on doors and locking devices on windows), your landlord has met his/her obligations for security. You are then responsible for covering the damages incurred at a break-in. Most leases require renter’s insurance to cover the expenses of vandalism or a break-in.

When you sign a contract it usually specifies in the lease that you should carry renter’s insurance. This is usually available through your parent’s homeowners insurance or even your auto insurance.

My landlord refuses to reimburse me for damages to my property, what can I do?

If the damage was not a natural disaster or caused by you (or any other tenant in your unit) then your landlord should be able to reimburse you for your losses. Of course there are exceptions from time to time. One questionable area is theft. Tenants are usually responsible for their losses in the case of theft, unless the theft is a result of the property provider’s negligence, i.e. improper locking devices.

As far as requesting compensation you will want to make an inventory of lost items and their “fair market value”. State the cause of the damage and amount of money you are seeking for reimbursement. Property providers have insurance that will cover your losses. Submit your request in writing. Should your property provider disagree or refuse to pay, mediation is a good option.

What do we do when we’re being charged to fix something we didn’t break?

Whether or not you are found responsible for the problem will depend on the documentation of it not working since you moved in. Did you notify your landlord of the damage as soon as you moved in? Did you note what didn’t work on your inventory and condition report at the beginning of the tenancy? If so, it shouldn’t be a problem proving you’re not to blame.

If you don’t have that evidence it will be harder. Professional maintenance people are left to determine who’s to blame between the tenant and the landlord. Your next best strategy would be to plead with the landlord that the problem always existed and perhaps you can reach a compromise with him/her.