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Apartment Maintenance: Put the screwdriver down!

When you first moved into your apartment, your landlord probably told you to treat the place like it was your home.



When you first moved into your apartment, your landlord probably told you to treat the place like it was your home. For many, that means taking care of all the little problems that crop up, ranging from things as simple as a broken lightbulb to those as complex as minor HVAC problems. Instead of picking up a screwdriver, though, you might be better off picking up your phone. Before you start taking care of the problems around your apartment, it's a good idea to know what kind of issues for which you are responsible and for which the landlord must pay.

It's usually a good idea to remember that you're ultimately responsible for anything that you bring into the apartment yourself. This generally includes things like lightbulbs, even if they are in a fixture that came with the apartment. If there's an issue with your internet equipment or your cable box, for example, you'll need to fix or (or pay to fix it) on your own. Your landlord is never responsible for the things that you bring into the apartment on your own, so don't bother calling if you have a problem with something that doesn't come with the unit.

In most cases, your landlord will be responsible for any problem that occurred due to normal usage in the apartment. That means that if your plumbing backs up or your air conditioning unit stops working, it's up to your landlord to either fix the problem himself or herself or to hire someone else to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. Despite what some landlords might want you to think, it really is their job to come out and deal with the major issues that are connected to your apartment unit. If it interferes with your ability to live in the space, it needs to be taken care of in a timely manner.

More difficult are those problems that tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Most landlords must take care of things like changing out air conditioning filters, but some leases might require you to do that kind of minor maintenance on your own. If you caused the problem yourself (a broken window, a hole in the wall, etc.), your landlord might need to do the repairs but he or she is within his or her rights to pass the cost back along to you.

You shouldn't do repairs to anything attached to your apartment. In fact, you might want to avoid doing the little things just in case your DIY attempts cause bigger problems. Remember, you must follow certain rules about how the property is treated when you move into the apartment and your landlord has to do the same. When you notice something that's more difficult than changing out a lightbulb, it's generally a good idea for you to pick up the phone and get in contact with the person in charge of maintenance for your apartment.

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