When You Should or Should Not Make Repairs as a Renter

Whether you rent or own your residence, something’s bound to wear out or break. Who fixes these issues is a touchy subject in the landlord/tenant relationship. Usually, the landlord will spell out what types of repairs a tenant should take on themselves, so that’s a good place to start if you aren’t sure. 

Otherwise, take a look below for some more direction on whether the tenant or the landlord should address repairs in and around a rental property. 

Who Broke It?

First and foremost, who caused the repair in the first place? If the issue is one caused by normal wear and tear where the repair just happened due to age or use, the landlord is responsible for making the repairs. 

If, on the other hand, you or one of your guests broke something, then the responsibility falls on you to fix the issue. 

Is the Issue a Big Deal?

Keep in mind that no landlord enjoys being bothered by the same tenant for repeated minor issues. If the problem is something easy or cheap to fix, it might be better for you to just do it yourself. 

For example, if your cat uses the mini blinds in your kitchen window as a step ladder, destroying them in the process, it’s really not a big deal and you should replace them since your pet caused the damage. 

If, on the other hand, the kitchen faucet drips constantly, your landlord will probably make the repairs, especially if he pays the water bill. 

Make a judgment call and decide how major (or minor) an issue is and fix it yourself if you can. 

What Are Your State’s Laws?

As a renter, you should know the laws as they pertain to tenant/landlord responsibility. A landlord has a responsibility to provide a safe, habitable dwelling, which means major systems like the heat must be in good working order. If your heat stops working, your landlord must address it immediately, no matter where you live in the country. 

Some states, however, say a tenant cannot repair anything themselves unless they or one of their guests broke something. It’s important to check your state’s laws to find out if you should or shouldn’t be making repairs yourself. 

Always Your Responsibility

You are required to maintain certain aspects in your rental unit unless your lease says otherwise. 

  • Replace lightbulbs and smoke detector batteries as needed
  • Clean the appliances
  • Keep the unit clean – it should be in the same condition when you leave as it was when you moved in, minus normal wear and tear. 

Even if you have contractor skills, you shouldn’t make major repairs without your landlord’s consent. Stick to minor repairs like replacing lightbulbs and patching nail holes and leave everything else to the owner.