What is a Maintenance Emergency?

Every evening, you fall asleep to a faint drip…drip…drip…sound. You’ve searched high and low but can’t find the source. Then you wake up in the middle of the night to find that the drip has turned into a gush. There’s water pouring out of your ceiling! What do you do? You call your apartment maintenance emergency line, of course! 

But sometimes, it is more complicated. The toilet may run, or the hallway lightbulb might go out. You could put up with the minor inconveniences for a while or even fix them yourself. But what qualifies as a maintenance emergency, and what are you responsible for fixing yourself? Is no AC a maintenance emergency? What about hot water? If you’re wondering, “What is a maintenance emergency?”, read on to find out. 

So What Is Considered a Maintenance Emergency?

Something has broken in your home. Maybe the garbage disposal stopped working, or a lightbulb in the common area went out. Maybe it’s more major–your apartment is flooding from a broken pipe, or the heat has stopped working mid-winter. How do you know if it’s an emergency or if it’s something to fix yourself? Here are a few things that may constitute an emergency:

Damage to Property

Is the problem causing damage to your property or the apartment complex? These are things like a broken water line flooding your unit or a tree limb that came careening through your window and straight into your tv. The apartment complex or landlord is likely not responsible for your personal property (hello, renter’s insurance). They will want to fix the building itself!

Risk of Losing Security Deposit

So maybe there isn’t half of a tree through window, but your refrigerator died, and all of your food is spoiled. If you never mentioned that and somehow dealt with it, you’d likely lose your security deposit! Same with a situation such as a broken water heater. Even if you manage without using it, neglecting to say anything means you may be stuck with the bill when you move out. So is no hot water an emergency? It may not be life or death, but it could come back to bite you when it’s time to leave! 

Risks to Health and Safety

Is black mold in your apartment making you sick? What about a power outage during the winter? Or broken AC during a heat wave? These are maintenance emergencies that you should report ASAP. Your health and safety are essential, and you should report anything threatening that.

How to Deal with Maintenance Emergencies

It’s essential to consider your situation’s urgency and who the responsible party may be when you’re trying to decide how to address it. Erring on the side of reporting problems to your landlord is always a safe bet. It may even save you money in the end.

Basic Rental Maintenance

Learn basic apartment repairs that will stay within your budget and are within the scope of your responsibility! These can be as easy as changing lightbulbs and air filters or unclogging your shower. The problem could be as easy as checking your circuit breaker! Some maintenance expenses are the tenant’s responsibility, so be sure to review your lease to see what exactly you should cover. 

Put in a Maintenance Request

If the problem is more significant than what you’re able to deal with but not necessarily time-sensitive, consider submitting a standard work order. At many apartment complexes, these can be submitted online through the same portal you use to pay rent.

For others, you may need to call or visit the front office to determine the proper protocol. Either way, that’s what the maintenance team is there for! Your property manager wants to help ensure that you have a safe, functional place to live and that the unit is ready for future tenants.

Contact Apartment Emergency Maintenance

During regular business hours, call the front office of your complex if you live in one or your landlord directly. Outside of business hours, there may be a 24hr emergency line that you can contact with a separate emergency maintenance team. Often this number is listed on the automated recording when you call the office while they are closed, or it may be listed in your lease.

It’s always better to report issues and get turned down than to spend money trying to fix them, live with the problem, or let it get worse.

What if Your Landlord Won’t Fix It?

Sometimes, your apartment complex might be more challenging to work with. They may claim that the issue at hand is not their responsibility. Here are steps you can take to determine your following action.

Review Your Lease

Is it specifically outlined what your responsibility is versus theirs? “Consumables” such as lightbulbs within your unit are often not covered, while lights in common areas such as hallways and staircases are. However, it is typically the apartment owner’s responsibility to maintain things like plumbing, wiring, and the structural integrity of the building. A specific apartment emergency maintenance list may also be available from your landlord.

Find a New Apartment With ApartmentSearch

If the problem continues, or more arise and you’re at an impasse with your landlord, it may be time to move on and move out. A safe and comfortable living space is vital to mental and physical health! 

If you constantly have to put in maintenance requests, it may be time to find a new place altogether. Explore apartment communities on ApartmentSearch! You can sort by price, number of bedrooms, location, and more! Find your new apartment today, and say “goodbye!” to never-ending maintenance requests!

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