Tag Archives: Maintenance

How to Submit a Helpful Maintenance Request

Problems happen. The dishwasher leaks, the heater doesn’t heat, or the air conditioner only makes noise. A maintenance request helps ensure that your landlord (or the building’s management company) does something about the issue in your rental unit.

To make sure the issue is addressed properly and in a timely fashion, your maintenance request should contain useful information and be thorough. The more helpful and specific the information, the more likely your maintenance request receives an appropriate resolution.

1. Call As Soon As Possible

Call your landlord or property manager shortly after you’ve noticed an issue. Read your rental agreement to ensure you call the right party. Calling an out-of-town landlord is far less efficient than calling a maintenance person or site manager within minutes of your rental.

If the situation is an emergency, such as a broken pipe causing a flooded bathroom, look for an emergency maintenance phone number on your rental agreement, and call it immediately.  

If it’s not an emergency, let the landlord or site manager know whether the maintenance crew can enter your apartment while you’re away. If you prefer to be home when the work takes place, offer a block of several hours in which the work can take place.

2. Follow Up in Writing

If you request is addressed within two days (or within the time the landlord or manager said it would be handled) — great — your work is done!

If not, or if you left a message via voicemail and haven’t heard back within 24 hours, it’s time to put your request in writing. The Cleveland Tenants Organization offers a simple notice to correct conditions. A more formal request form is available through the Tenants Union of Washington State. Here’s what to do:

  • Fill out all the required information and spell out in specific detail exactly what needs repaired in your apartment.
  • Include written notice of when you first placed a call requesting repairs.
  • Mail (or drop off) the notice to the landlord or property manager (whomever is indicated in your original rental agreement).
  • Send the notice via certified mail, or take the letter to the post office and pay for postage directly with a postal clerk. That way, you can get a receipt that has tracking information. (A stamped letter dropped into a mailbox isn’t trackable. You’ll have no proof that the other party received the letter.)
  • Have the person sign a piece of paper stating that they received the letter. This applies if you dropped the letter off directly to the person in charge of handling your request. (Prepare this in advance and take it, along with a pen.)
  • Keep written records and proof of all maintenance requests and communications regarding the maintenance issue.

3. Wait the Proper Amount of Time

In many cases, maintenance issues are taken care of within 48 hours, but the legally required time frame varies by state. For instance, in Washington State, serious issues such as no hot water or electricity must be dealt with within 24 hours. But 72 hours is acceptable for a refrigerator or oven repair. If you’re concerned that repairs are not happening in a reasonable amount of time, look up your state’s laws here.

4. Consider Dealing With Minor Issues Yourself

Minor issues, such as a small hole in the carpet are not required to be fixed.

A landlord is legally required to keep the property in habitable condition. But minor repairs such as a dripping faucet or a small hole in the carpet are not required repairs, according to a tenant’s rights article on FindLaw. You may not be able to force the landlord to handle such repairs, but a well-written request pointing out the benefits of repair can greatly help your cause. For instance, spell out that a running toilet or dripping faucet wastes water, leading to an increasing water bill that wastes the landlord’s money.

Bottom Line

Even if you have a great relationship with the property manager, a written request matters more than a verbal request. This is true even when renting from an individual that you see nearly every day, such as a duplex owner that lives in the other unit of the duplex. A written and dated maintenance request leaves proof of the issue in case the responsible party takes a while before doing anything about it.

No matter what your reason for submitting the request, be sure to make it look as professional as possible. Consider typing it out instead of writing it out by hand so there’s no question of legibility. If you do all these things and submit the request to the proper party (as spelled out in your rental agreement), your maintenance issue should soon be resolved.

Credit to Kathy Adams

Kathy is an award-winning investigative journalist, not to mention a writer, brand blogger, decor/DIY expert, renter, commercial landlord. She also writes for brands such as Behr, Kroger, Canon and Black+Decker on topics pertaining to home and apartment decorating and maintenance.

homes for rent, homes for sale,
homes for rent, homes for sale, newstarrealty.com
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Let Your Tenants Paint, but with 4 Specific Conditions

paint

Landlords often paint their properties in shades of white or gray, which are great colors to choose because they are easy to maintain, and they make rental units easier to show.

Your renters, however, might prefer more vibrant and interesting colors in the place they call home and might wish to repaint. Is it ever appropriate for tenants to take the job upon themselves? If you agree to let your tenant change the paint color, who should pay for it?

1. Tenants Should Always Check with You First

Color harmonization can improve a person’s life. But even so, this is not a basic human right or need.

If your tenant paints without your blessing, you can deduct from their security deposit the amount it will cost to repaint, assuming they don’t return it to the original color before departing.

It’s wise to have a paint policy in your lease to make sure there are no surprises. If you allow your tenant to paint, here are some ways to go about it:

  1. Discuss a color
    Pick a suitable color scheme consisting of one or two hues. Sometimes, a tenant will feel as if it’s a vast improvement to simply change the color of a single wall.
  2. Go pro
    Consider hiring a pro to make sure the job is done right. If you do the work yourself, put extra care into protecting the floors and woodwork. If you let your tenant paint, you can deduct any money spent toward cleanup needed when they move out.
  3. Don’t paint wood
    Avoid painting woodwork and other surfaces that haven’t already been painted and that would have to be stripped to restore them to their previous unpainted state.

There is a good chance you’ll have to restore the original colors when your tenant moves out, but if you do an excellent job that significantly improves the look and feel of the unit, you might be able to rent the place with the new colors.

2. You Can Veto a Color

If your tenant feels out of place because of the color scheme, don’t laugh. The colors in a home can affect a person’s moods and overall sense of wellbeing. However, that doesn’t mean you should allow a tenant to paint the kitchen red. Reds and pinks are some of the most difficult colors to cover up.

Feng Shui and Color

Color plays an important part in the ancient Chinese art of space harmonization — or Feng Shui — and many interior decorators use Feng Shui principles to balance energies in the home. Color harmonization at home can help your tenant relax while boosting concentration. It can also enhance social interactions by helping visitors feel more comfortable.

Balancing the Elements

Although landlords and real estate agents think of white and gray as neutral, Feng Shui practitioners don’t. Both colors represent metal, and they give a space a sharp or crisp quality. Earth and wood tones, water colors (such as blue), or the reds and oranges of fire could be more relaxing, inspiring, and generally beneficial for your tenant.

3. Do a Good Job

Few tenants are professional painters, and even if you like the colors your renters use, you may not be happy with the workmanship.

But if you do allow them to paint anyway, here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge good work
    Recognize a good thing when you see it. If your tenants do a professional job, and the colors are attractive, don’t be too set on going back to neutral colors when they leave. Reward the tenants for their good work with a full refund of their painting deposit if you plan to leave the paint as is.
  • Allow them to nest
    Tenants are more likely to stay if they feel they have the freedom to decorate according to their taste, and they save you the trouble of having to do the painting yourself, which is part of regular maintenance.
  • Put it in writing
    Get a written agreement before allowing your tenants to paint. Among other things, the agreement should stipulate if and how the tenants are reimbursed if they pay for materials and labor.

With a few exceptions — notably New York City — no state or local laws require landlords to repaint when a tenant moves out. It’s important to know, however, that some small-claims courts have considered periodic repainting a condition of habitability in the case of long-term tenancies. That’s an incentive to give the green light (or the lime light, or maybe the emerald light) to tenants with the motivation to do the job themselves.

4. Make Them Pay for All (or Some) of It

For some landlords, it’s a standard practice to repaint between tenancies, and once a rental is occupied, the paint job can be expected to last for at least a year. If you select quality tenants and choose quality paint, you won’t have to repaint for three to five years.

If tenants wish to repaint during the first few years of occupancy, it’s reasonable to expect them to pay for paint and materials. Over the years, paint ages and loses its luster. Repainting then becomes a maintenance issue, and responsibility reverts to the landlord. Every material, including paint, has a natural life expectancy.

A willingness on the part of both landlord and tenant to negotiate is always beneficial.

A common solution is for you to purchase the materials and the tenant to contribute their time and labor (as long as they do a good job).

 

Credit to Chris Deziel

Chris has owned and managed 4 rental properties in Santa Cruz, CA, and Salida, CO and is a DIY handyman expert for popular sites like Pro Referral.

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