No apartment unit is completely free of issues. Faucets leak, sinks clog, locks stick, and so on. Dealing with maintenance issues in your apartment can be an extremely frustrating experience, especially if it’s something that impacts your ability to live comfortably. Follow this handy guide to find out what a maintenance request is and how you can submit one in case you have a maintenance issue that needs to be dealt with.
What’s a Maintenance Request? Guide to accomplish easily. A maintenance request is a formal way of asking your landlord to fix something in a rental space that you’re unable to do on your own. Maintenance requests should always be submitted in writing so that they can be filed or reported through the system to put in place to handle such requests. A written request can also prove that you documented the issue in case you need to escalate it further. When writing a maintenance request letter, you want to include as much detail as possible. You can submit a maintenance request for issues like cracks and leaks in the roof, broken window or door locks, or leaky sinks. For things like a burned out light bulb or clogged sink, there is no need to send in a maintenance request as you can probably handle them on your own. Your lease agreement for your rental space should clearly state who to contact for maintenance and repair requests.
A maintenance request is a formal letter that a tenant sends to a landlord or property manager for maintenance and repairs. No matter how small the requested repair is, it’s always to submit it in writing. Here are more details on how you can put together your own request letter.
What kinds of issues qualify for a maintenance request?
One of the upsides of apartment living is that the landlord or property manager is responsible for keeping your unit safe, clean, and habitable. This means that they must provide access to electricity, clean water, and heat, as well as keep the apartment building free from pests, secure and safe, clean, and reasonably protected from severe weather. If these needs are not adequately met, then you should consider filling out a maintenance request.
Sometimes you may be able to fix an issue on your own, but if it’s something that requires the help of a professional, such as a locksmith, plumber, or HVAC repairman, you shouldn’t try to handle it on your own, even if it’s a seemingly easy task. That way, you’ll avoid liability in case the issue turns out to be more serious than you thought.
A. Things that you can handle on your own:
- Small holes in the wall
- Clogged sink or toilet
- A jammed garbage disposal
- Old caulking around your bathroom fixtures
- Squeaky floors
- Burned out light bulb
B. Issues for which you should submit a maintenance request:
- Air conditioning and furnace issues
- Leaking sink
- Broken door or window locks
- Cracks and leaks in the walls or roof
- Broken appliances
C. Maintenance emergencies that require immediate attention:
There are some major issues that you shouldn’t worry about having to fill a written a maintenance request – you can contact the appropriate emergency service as soon as possible. They include:
- Gas leak
- Carbon monoxide leak
Why put your maintenance request in writing?
Apartment maintenance requests should always be put in writing, mainly for the following reasons:
1. It’s formal
You might be on a first-name basis with your landlord, but when it comes to maintenance issues, you want to be formal. If there are forms (online or in-office) that you need to fill out in order to submit a maintenance request, do so following the rules of your community. If this is not an option, simply put together an email.
2. It keeps landlords organized
Landlords and property managers are busy people who may be juggling requests from multiple tenants or even going back and forth between several properties that they own or manage. Simply asking them to deal with maintenance or repair issues might seem like the most straightforward way to do it, but it’s also the easiest way for them to forget about your request when they have other tasks to handle.
Some landlords and property managers may even require that you submit your request in writing so that they can file or report it through the system they use to handle requests.
3. A letter can serve as proof that you documented the issue
Submitting a maintenance request letter ensures that it goes to the right authority and that your request is documented. If the issue is not addressed in good time, your letter is proof of when you made your landlord or property manager aware of the issue. Should you need to follow up on the matter for legal purposes, your letter (with an included date) is an important piece of evidence in the process.
4. It’s a great way to safeguard you and your lease
Say you attempted to fix a leaky pipe on your own but you end up making the problem worse. You could then become liable for causing damage. If you opt to write a maintenance request instead, the landlord will address the problem. This safeguards you and your lease, so you don’t have to worry about inadvertently violating the terms of it.
How to write a maintenance request letter
When writing a maintenance request letter, make sure you include as much relevant detail as possible. Try your best to describe exactly what’s going on and how the issue occurred so that whoever performs the repairs is aware of what they’re up against before even coming to your unit.
It’s also important to maintain a polite and professional tone when writing a maintenance request. Depending on how serious the issue is, you may have to wait several days for the repair to take place, so be patient.
Where should you submit your maintenance request?
Your lease or rental agreement should outline who to contact in case you need to make maintenance and repair requests.
Some apartment communities have put in place automated systems where tenants can make maintenance requests online, while others require that you file them in person at a designated office. For the former, make sure you get a reference number and also print a copy of your submission (and if you get an auto-response, make sure you save it). For the latter, you’ll want to request a signed photocopy as proof that you submitted a maintenance request. If you’re renting directly from a property owner, they may want to handle the requests themselves and require that you send them an email.
If you’re dealing with a significant issue that could potentially impact your safety, such as a non-functional HVAC system or gas leak, reach out to the appropriate point of contact via phone to let them know the gravity of the situation. Check your lease agreement to find contact information for an emergency, and save that information where you can easily access it. Make sure you follow up any verbal communication with a written request that you send in the mail or email.
Sample maintenance request letter
Below is a simple maintenance request letter. The format is simple yet effective, and you can use it to notify your apartment complex’s maintenance staff. Simply fill in your own information and add details about the issue that needs resolving.
(Current address of your apartment, Unit number)
(City, State, ZIP code)
(Landlord or apartment company management’s name)
(Address as is printed on your lease)
(City, State, ZIP code)
Re: Maintenance request
Tenant repair and maintenance responsibilities
While a maintenance request is a convenient way to communicate your repair needs, your landlord isn’t the only one that bears the responsibility of keeping your rental unit reasonably maintained. As a tenant, state and local laws require that you maintain your unit to a certain standard.
Your landlord is usually responsible for major repairs, but if a significant habitability issue is a result of you not keeping up your end of the maintenance bargain, it’s highly unlikely that the landlord will pay for the repair. Furthermore, you’re not entitled to use any of the tenant remedies, such as withholding the rent, to get the job done. For example, if your toilet is clogged up because you tried to flush down something that’s not supposed to go down a toilet drain, you may have a habitability issue, but the cost of repairing will fall solely on you.
You’re required to:
- Fix the items that you break or damage
- Make sure your rental remains as clean and safe as the condition of the property permits.
- Keep the plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits
- Get rid of rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a safe manner
- Use plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and any other facilities and systems you may have properly.
- In many states, you are required to notify your landlord as soon as possible in case of defective or dangerous conditions on the property.
Keep in mind that your landlord is not allowed to charge you for issues that arise from normal wear and tear.
You have a right to a livable place
Almost every state’s laws require that landlords provide safe and livable housing to tenants, regardless of how much rent they pay. Livable housing means that the unit must meet basic requirements such as:
- Sufficient hot water
- A working roof that keeps out the elements
- Reliable heat
- Reasonable protection from criminal intrusion
- Sturdy walls and floors
- No significant danger from hazards such as mold, asbestos, and lead.
To ensure habitable rentals, landlords are responsible for the following:
- Maintaining all common areas, such as stairwells and hallways, in clean and safe conditions
- Exterminating vermin
- Maintaining electrical, sanitary, plumbing, HVAC systems, and elevators in safe operating conditions
- Keeping basic structural elements of the complex, including walls and floors, safe and intact.
- Supplying cold and hot water at reasonable times and in reasonable amounts.
A tenant’s right to a livable unit is not waivable. For example, landlords can’t avoid their habitability responsibilities by sneaking in a disclaimer in the lease or rental agreements. Similarly, courts won’t acknowledge any agreements between tenants and landlords to waive habitability responsibilities (when a landlord offers lower rent in exchange for the waiver, for instance).
A landlord will be in breach of their habitability responsibilities when, as a result of the landlord’s negligence, an issue arises that would cause a tenant to be reasonably concerned for their health or safety.
If something is wrong in your apartment, most landlords or maintenance staff are usually more than willing to deal with the issue quickly. If you have a good working relationship with these people, the better. That said, it’s important to always put a maintenance request in writing – not only is it more formal, but it also allows you to keep records.