For a first-time renter, the move into a new apartment is teeming with anticipation. It’s exciting to check out all the amenities and to get to know the neighborhood. But there are also practical matters to attend to, like understanding the maintenance policies stated in your lease agreement.
It’s important to follow those policies when submitting a maintenance request. Reach out to management if you have a question. To ensure speedy assistance, use the maintenance portal on the community’s website if one is provided. In any case, you’ll want a written or digital record of your submission.
Fortunately, many renters go for long periods with minimal maintenance issues. This is in part because management tends to know the “pain points” of a property, and they take proactive steps to prevent common problems.
Common maintenance issues
Some of the most common maintenance needs involve the plumbing and the HVAC system. They are also among the most important. Tenants need water, both hot and cold. They also want the HVAC equipment to maintain comfortable temperatures. The furnace needs to deliver warmth in the winter, and the air conditioner needs to deliver cool air in the summer.
There’s more to apartment plumbing than meets the eye. In the bathroom, hot and cold water flows to the sink, shower, tub, and toilet. In the kitchen, hot and cold water flows to the sink and dishwasher. In-unit washers also require hot and cold water.
Here are some issues tenants may encounter:
Leaks – Leaks may develop in and around valves and connectors. Water leaks may appear in the ceiling, near doors/windows, by drains, and under sinks. Prompt attention is critical, because leaks may damage drywall, wood, flooring, and more. Trapped moisture may even cause mold. Fixing a dripping pipe under the sink is far better than dealing with a flooded kitchen.
No hot water – When there’s no hot water, the problem may be either the thermostat or the heating element. Sediment buildup or rusting will reduce the unit’s ability to produce enough hot water. Sometimes, there’s a problem with the valve that mixes the hot and cold water before use.
If you have an electric water heater but no hot water, it’s possible that something tripped the circuit breaker. A natural gas heater will not deliver hot water if the gas supply gets interrupted.
HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Various issues can arise with the system that keeps your apartment comfortable. Some examples include:
- Clogged air filter
- Leaky refrigerant
- Compressor malfunction or failure
The best time to deal with any heating or cooling issue is when it first appears.
Every kitchen has a variety of appliances that may require occasional maintenance. The refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave are all examples.
Consumer Reports notes common appliance issues, including:
- Faulty refrigerator compressor, evaporator fan motor, or thermostat
- The temperature sensor in the oven
- Heating elements on the stove
- Faulty dishwasher inlet valve, washer arm, drain pump, or circulation pump
- Problems with microwave buttons, turntable, door lock, or exhaust fan
According to Family Handyman, 90% of clogged toilets will work again after a few strokes of a plunger. When the tenant cannot deal with the clog, it is important to notify management without delay. An overflowing toilet can do a great deal of damage to your unit and to those on lower floors.
Garbage disposals are rugged devices that grind up food without fail, day after day. However, they cannot handle things they were not designed for. Bones may jam the unit, for example. Eventually, the motor may burn out, requiring a new disposal.
Bugs and rodents
Pest control responsibilities vary, so check your lease. Management needs to deliver a bug and rodent-free apartment to a new tenant. Since pests can move about, management must control them on a building-wide basis.
At the same time, tenants should take steps to minimize future infestations. Only open-screened windows. Promptly dispose of food scraps in the garbage disposal or in a covered trash can. If bugs or rodents do appear, look for possible points of entry.
Prepare for routine maintenance inspections
A landlord can enter an apartment to identify and address maintenance needs. Laws vary by state, although most require that the landlord provide 24 or 48 hours advance notice. In practice, they will often give you a week or two to prepare for a routine maintenance inspection. Time of entry is often restricted to regular business hours. Some leases extend those hours, however.
There’s no need to clean your apartment from top-to-bottom before an inspection. However, it is helpful to clear items that might block access to smoke detectors, appliances, and more.
During a routine maintenance inspection, management will also look for any water leaks. They’ll also check the:
- HVAC system
- Smoke detectors
- Fire extinguisher
- Lighting and electrical
If applicable, they will also check the:
- In-unit washer and dryer
- Deck, patio, or balcony
- In-unit hot water heater
The maintenance team may resolve minor issues on the spot. For bigger problems, a plumbing, HVAC, or other contractor may contact you to make an appointment.
Preventative maintenance benefits both the tenant and the landlord. Well-maintained HVAC, plumbing, and appliances will reduce the likelihood of a future problem.
When it comes to maintenance requests, landlord-tenant communication is a two-way street. Tenants should report concerns without delay, and management should promptly follow up. It’s best everyone works together: tenants, management, and the maintenance team. Coming together with mutual courtesy and respect is ideal.
Keep in mind that it is in the best interest of the property manager to resolve issues without delay. A reputation for timely maintenance is a competitive edge in the marketplace.
About Draper and Kramer
Draper and Kramer is a full-service real estate firm founded in 1893. D&K uses Yardi Maintenance to process work orders from the initial contact through completion. To start a ticket, tenants are encouraged to use the Yardi portal on the D&K website.
D&K offers luxury apartment homes from Illinois to Missouri, and from Texas to Arizona. Browse our entire portfolio of luxury apartment communities at DraperandKramer.com.