As a tenant, it can be a little unclear when and how to submit a maintenance request. Issues you are having with your rental unit may not be as urgent or pressing for the landlord. This can lead to frustration for the tenant that the landlord has no interest in making repairs while the tenant may be prioritizing necessary repairs that are required by law.
Even if some of your maintenance requests go ignored by the landlord, it is always important to document these requests in case any issues arise down the line. You’ll also want to submit requests even if you’re unsure if it is urgent in case it is something that could cause serious problems in the future.
When to submit
Tenants are entitled to safe and habitable living conditions. While some people have higher expectations about what that means, in a strictly legal sense it means something more specific. You are also entitled to repairs for the appliances that are included in the rental agreement. There also may be other specifics that are unique to your rental unit, that is on a case-by-case basis.
Here are a few examples of necessary repairs:
- Leaky faucet
- Broken dishwasher
- A broken door
- Broken appliances
These are all repairs that can be done in a reasonable amount of time and don’t require immediate action. There are some repairs that require action immediately and those are issues that put your health and safety in jeopardy. Here are some examples:
- Busted plumbing that causes flooding
- No hot water
- Exterior locks broken on doors and/or windows
- Gas leaks
Put it in writing
Any information regarding how to submit maintenance requests should be included in the rental agreement. Even if you mention an issue to the landlord in passing, you should still submit a maintenance request in writing for multiple reasons. It protects you as a tenant if a failure to act causes you harm. It also helps the landlord prioritize repairs since they likely have more units with issues they need to keep track of. With tenant web portals now more common, submitting and tracking any maintenance requests is even easier.
What to include in a maintenance request
Be as detailed as possible. Describing an issue that is often understood much easier visually can be difficult. Be sure to include any sounds, smells, how long it’s been happening, and anything else you can think of. If possible, include a picture in the request.
Let your landlord know if you’ll be around. With work-from-home becoming more common communicating with your landlord is even more important. Let your landlord know if you will be around and if not, make sure they have easy access to your unit and the space that needs to be inspected.
Be as respectful and professional as possible. Landlords can make mistakes just like anyone else and being aggressive and angry won’t make issues get resolved any quicker. Be accommodating and patient. Also, provide any contact information they may not have on file if it’s easier to contact you that way during the window they show up for repairs.
Where to submit
This will be different for everyone and the information on where to submit should be included in the lease agreement. If there is management on site, there may be a drop box or someone you can talk to directly. For offsite management, email is often the best way to contact your landlord for repairs. With the proliferation of property management software and websites, submitting maintenance requests online through a tenant web portal is becoming the quickest and easiest way. You may want to follow up with an email to your landlord if no action has been taken on the repair in a few days.