Landlord performing some plumbing repairs at a tenant's apartment.

What are landlords responsible for? Learn before you move in

If something goes wrong in your apartment, you need to know your landlord's maintenance responsibilities.

If something breaks in your apartment or stops working properly, there's a process for repair. Know how your landlord expects you to proceed before you move in.

Questions to ask your landlord to understand apartment maintenance responsibilities

Who do I contact about maintenance issues and how should I reach out?

In most instances, you'll be reaching out to the landlord about maintenance, but it's smart to ask how your landlord prefers to be contacted.

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It's likely your landlord will want maintenance requests submitted in an online portal. This keeps the landlord organized. It also benefits you, though, because you have an important paper trail of your request. If your landlord doesn't utilize an online maintenance system, confirm that email is an appropriate way to make contact since a paper trail still matters.

Make sure you have your landlord's correct contact information. You can ask what a typical turnaround time is for maintenance issues, or if they have a preferred contractor. Questions like these will help you to know how to handle maintenance questions or issues when they occur.

What do I do if a maintenance issue caused damage to my apartment or personal property?

It's always a good idea to ask your landlord if they have insurance on their rental property. Depending on the kind of policy they carry, and how the damage originated, their policy might cover damage to the structure as well as your personal property. Most cases, it just covers their property. So, make sure you have a renters policy that covers your personal property in the event of covered damage.

What do I do if there's an emergency maintenance problem?

Emergency maintenance problems are issues that require immediate attention, such as your pipes bursting or your furnace breaking in the winter months. In the case of an emergency, some landlords have a separate phone number they want you to call. Ask your landlord what protocol he or she would like you to follow in the case of an emergency issue.

Your landlords are usually responsible for the building and anything provided with the unit. You might be responsible for your personal property. So make sure you have a renters insurance policy.

What if my apartment starts to flood?

If you notice water in your apartment, get everything you can away from the water. Then call your landlord, or whoever you can contact in apartment management. While you are waiting, try to stop the leak or use trash cans to catch the water. Once the water is stopped, it's usually your landlord's responsibility to repair the apartment and possibly replace the carpet or damaged appliances.

What if I damage my apartment moving in?

If you are moving into your apartment, then you are officially living in the apartment, according to the lease. If the landlord discovers damage you've failed to report, you might be held responsible for it. Depending on the severity of the damage, and nature of your lease, the landlord may be responsible for fixing the damage you saw on move in.

Am I responsible for doing any maintenance myself?

It's rare for landlords to require you to fix issues yourself, but it's worth asking ahead of time. Also ask if you'll be financially responsible for any maintenance.

Tenant maintenance responsibilities

As valuable as it is to know the landlord's responsibilities, it may also be helpful to learn about possible responsibilities you may have as a tenant. Here are some things you are responsible for:

  • Damages - Holes in the walls, broken windows or other damage caused by the tenants or their guests.
  • Animals - Damage to the property caused by your animals such as stained carpeting or chewed up fixtures.
  • Repairs - Fixes required due to a violation of the lease agreement: for example, if the lease indicates no smoking or pets.
  • Upkeep - Maintaining a clean home.
  • Lawn care - Yard work including cutting grass and snow removal.
  • Garbage - Discarding trash and debris.

You should know all the landlord maintenance responsibilities prior to signing your lease. Handling maintenance issues the right way will help ensure repairs are fixed efficiently.

Continue reading to discover questions to ask your landlord about moving day, so everything goes smoothly. Plus, find out how you can manage maintenance and communicate with your landlord online. In addition, learn more about other questions to ask your landlord before you sign a rental agreement.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Neither State Farm nor its agents provide tax or legal advice.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
State Farm General Insurance Company
Bloomington, IL

State Farm Florida Insurance Company
Winter Haven, FL

State Farm Lloyds
Richardson, TX

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