Tenant 101: When It’s Broke Who’s Gonna Fix It?

    As a renter, you reap the benefit of not having to worry about extensive repairs, upkeep, or maintenance on your apartment or home. These duties all befall your landlord and are detailed in your lease agreement. So when things go south such as bug infestation, leaks, or broken appliances you should immediately contact your landlord.

    But what if they refuse to handle your repairs? Is there anything you can do beyond writing a well-worded email voicing your complaints for lack of aid in completing any sort of repair? Below we’ve detailed responsibilities your landlord must uphold and what power you have as a renter.

    Broken Household Appliances

    Setting aside any appliances you’ve brought into your rental such as a microwave or washer and dryer, your landlord is responsible for it. This includes any appliance that came with your apartment or home when you moved in. Preventive maintenance on their behalf should also be going on to keep all of those appliances running and functioning properly. This includes things like replacing hoses or fixing the furnace.

    Furthermore, the functioning of your furnace is the highest concern to your landlord when it comes to appliances that came in-unit. It’s a requirement within local and state laws to provide adequate heating to any home they’re renting. In warmer states south of the PNW this same law applies to air conditioners that are also required for rentals.

    Pest Infestation

    The fact remains that within the world of lease-agreements, landlords must provide you with a safe, livable space—pest-free. Within this category though there are a few areas that get fuzzy when it comes to your landlord covering everything. Depending on which state you live in, your landlord may or may not be held responsible.

    Luckily in Washington, landlords are held completely responsible for managing pests in rentals. The only exception is in single family residences and in the case where the infestation is obviously caused by the tenant. If you have any infestation make proper documentation of it because it’s a real repair issue. Take pictures, and make note of the beginning of the infestation and the state of the house or apartment at the time.

    Mold And Water Damage

    We all know how much it rains in the PNW—a lot. Water damage and mold are common (especially around here) and specific regulations surround dealing with it…or lack thereof. Although mold doesn’t cause any major health problems it can induce headaches or allergy symptoms, or cause respiratory issues. Mold is considered a repair issue but in most states, there’s no legal binding on your landlord to make extensive repairs.

    In Washington, a landlord is only bound under state law to provide written information to tenants about mold and its health impacts. What they are held responsible for is eliminating the source of anything causing mold growth. The more documentation you have that there’s any sort of moisture control issue, or lack of adequate ventilation that caused the mold growth, the better. You’re likely to gain the most help from your landlord by submitting a repair request and properly showing them the sizable impact a mold infestation may be making on their property.

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