There are a lot of laws that govern the rights you have when you’re renting your home, but landlords are also pretty well-protected. You might think that anything that goes on in your apartment is their business (for better or worse), but there are actually quite a few things that simply are not their responsibility. While it’s pretty wild they technically own your home and can make all kinds of rules about it but don’t actually have to fix certain issues, it’s worth knowing what is and is not their job when it comes to your space.
If you are renting a house or are lucky enough to have scored an apartment with a backyard, be warned: Your lease may stipulate that management of those areas is your responsibility, per Realtor.com. Read it carefully and ask your landlord if you have any questions, but know that you could be the one who has to clear snow, clean the gutters, remove pests, and more.
Small plumbing issues
Clogs and other little plumbing issues are rarely your landlord’s responsibility, adds Realtor.com. Unless it’s something really major, you’re probably on your own to get whatever is in that pipe out of it, which you should do because if your issue becomes the building’s issue, you’re likely on the hook for that, too.
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Damage you cause
In most cases, per Realtor.com, if you cause damage, you have to fix it. If your wall develops a hole because of a water leak, that’s the landlord’s responsibility. If it develops a hole because you hung something too heavy, it’s yours.
Per legal service Nolo, your landlord is likely not legally required to make repairs in your place that are purely cosmetic. If a crack in your bathroom tile is merely unsightly, that’s probably your problem. If a crack in the tub is causing a leak or making it unusable, it’s probably theirs. What they are legally required to do is keep the building livable, which means you have to be warm and have access to the essentials.
What to do if you’re unsure
You can assume your landlord doesn’t have to provide you with window screens, air conditioners, lightbulbs, and other things of that nature, but you should always reach out to them if you think there’s a chance. My apartment has a vaulted ceiling, for instance, and as tenant in a cramped New York City apartment, I don’t have a gigantic ladder lying around. My landlord comes in and changes my lightbulb when I need it, which is considerate. Read your lease carefully to see what repairs are specifically highlighted as their responsibility and yours and, if you do make requests or ask for clarification, be sure to always do it in writing so you have a record of what is said.