I sold my home about 10 years ago and downsized. I lived in apartments up until 3 years ago when I rented a duplex. My question is: are expectations and/or laws different when it comes to maintenance in a duplex or house as compared to an apartment?
In my apartment everything was handled by the maintenance man. Now it seems I'm responsible for nearly everything inside my duplex. I'm no longer on a lease and I didn't ask these questions when signing the original lease as I assumed everything would be handled like when I lived in an apartment.
If you are paying rent and don't own the residence, the landlord is responsible for all repairs whether you signed a lease or not.
It sounds like your landlord is shirking his responsibilities.
If you are running into a lot of problems, look for another place to live such as an apartment complex which has on-site maintenance.
Check online for landlord/tenant laws in your state. Even without a lease landlords are responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe property. You can also try to find an attorney that specializes in landlord/tenant law.
Also, read the original lease; repair issues should have been spelled out a little, and should still apply.
Landlords neglect their property for several reasons, all of which suggest it's time for a move:
They are slumlords and don't give a hoot, just want the money. They are having problems of their own, either financial or personal and don't have the means, time, or energy to take care of needed upkeep, in which case they will probably end up with no property in the end or really run down property. They have a bad attitude [lazy, irresponsible, etc]. They have health and mobility problems and upkeep has grown too difficult, or their spouse has problems taking all their time, energy, and finances.
In some states [PLEASE CHECK LAW ON THIS, IT'S QUITE SPECIFIC AND LIMITED] you can make an agreement to take care of the repairs and landlord deducts cost of parts, and labor costs if someone is hired from your rent. [THIS MUST BE SPELLED OUT IN WRITING, VERY DETAILED AND SPECIFIC AS AGREED TO BY BOTH OF YOU, BE VERY CAREFUL HERE]. Just watched as someone went through something like that who thought they had agreement, but it wasn't in writing...and you can guess the mess.
Landlord/Tenant laws vary greatly from state to state
and are one of the causes of the greatest number
of small-claims court cases. Leases will usually
spell out specifics, but basically, it boils down to
this. If a repair is needed because of something
you did (broken window or stopped-up plumbing)
you are probably going to be held responsible providing everything worked properly when you took
possession of the property. If it's something like
a leaking roof, then it's certainly the landlord's
responsibility unless somehow you caused the roof
to leak. There are entire books of laws covering
Landlord/Tenant, so the best you can do is go to
Legal Aid if you cannot afford an attorney and start
asking some questions. Take a copy of your original lease with you. That should still be binding
unless otherwise stated. On your way home, pick
up a daily newspaper which has rentals listed...just
in case you have a "Slumlord" rather than a responsible Landlord who is interested in keeping
up his or her own property.
Wishing you all the best,
Julia in Boca Raton, FL
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