Renter run-down: What do you have to pay for?

Even as a renter, proper apartment maintenance is partially your job. However, some responsibilities do fall on your landlord or your insurance company.

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No upkeep to deal with may seem like a sweet perk of apartment living. Pipe bursts? Call your landlord and it’s fixed. Microwave on the fritz? Text your super and get it taken care of. But keeping the unit reasonably maintained is still partially your responsibility as a tenant.

Why is apartment maintenance so important? First, having a well-maintained apartment will ensure you get back your security deposit when it’s time for you to move out. Secondly, keeping a clean and well-maintained living environment is healthy and safe for you and any visitors.

Some general maintenance tasks fall on you, while your landlord should cover others, and an insurance company should handle emergencies. Read on for the break down.

What you should be doing

As a rule, you’re responsible for general upkeep: simple, everyday chores that ensure everything in the apartment is running smoothly. Some of your responsibilities can include:

  • Fixing normal wear and tear (carpet stains, replacing light bulbs)
  • General cleanliness
  • Proper waste disposal
  • Proper use of appliances

Another important responsibility as a renter is to alert your landlord of any maintenance issues, even if they’re not urgent. They can only handle their maintenance responsibilities if you keep them informed, and the issue could get worse over time if it’s not fixed.

This may be obvious, but it’s important to note: Any damage you directly cause to the property is on you to fix, even if it is something a landlord generally takes care of. For example, your landlord may usually cover plumbing issues, but if your visiting niece decides to flush a toy down the toilet, covering the cost of a fix is on you.

What they should be doing

Before you start to feel overwhelmed by apartment upkeep, don’t worry! Large portions of maintenance duties fall on your landlord.

Though every property will have it’s own rules, in general, your landlord should cover maintenance in the following categories:

  • Electrical issues
  • Plumbing issues
  • Heating/air conditioning issues
  • Pest control
  • Landscaping and snow removal
  • Common areas (shared hallways, parking garages, pools)
  • Issues causing safety or health concerns — i.e. mold
  • Structural issues not caused by tenants — i.e. a leaking roof
  • Keeping the parking lot/garage in good repair

If you’re ever unsure of whom the responsibility falls on for a particular maintenance issue, simply check your lease agreement.

This is why you have insurance

The above breakdown of responsibilities applies to everyday life, but what about in case of an emergency? As a renter, you don’t own the physical apartment building you’re living in, so you don’t need homeowner’s insurance. However, you likely own all of the items inside the apartment! This is when renters insurance comes in.

Policies vary, but in general, your renters insurance should cover the following categories:

  • Your personal property: In case of a fire, burglary, or other covered emergency in your apartment, your insurance will help you replace lost or damaged personal items. Many policies will continue to cover your items even if they leave your apartment with you, so if your items are destroyed while you’re on a trip, they’re covered in that case, as well.
  • Personal liability: This covers you in case someone is accidentally injured while inside your apartment.
  • Property damage: Coverage if you accidentally damage someone else’s property.

Your renters insurance rate and how much personal property coverage you need are both based on how much your belongings are worth. Check out all of your insurance options so you can choose a policy that fits your needs.

Thinking about your apartment insurance needs once you rent?