Welcome to your new home! All nice, shiny, clean, pristine and hopefully in perfect shape. Or maybe it isn’t, maybe the previous tenants were pretty bad and your home, despite your landlord’s best efforts has a couple of problems. Maybe some of these problems weren’t just on the surface and despite a check before the old tenants moved out and another when you took over some things were missed. Now what?
First things first. If you haven’t read up on our previous post: The importance of a move-in walk-through maybe now would be a good time to do that. It actually helps with the first step which is getting that proper walk-through when you move into your new home. But for argument’s sake, lets say something was missed by both you and your landlord and you want to bring it to their attention to get fixed. What do you do?
At some point during the process you’ll need to find out the best way to report things to your landlord. Some landlords work by email, others by phone, some might require you to report it in person and others by a maintenance system. At Remax St. Kitts, we use a ticketing system and we always ask our tenants to schedule a walk-through with us through the ticketing system. This ensures the walk-through is done and helps our tenants see exactly how our system works.
When notifying the landlord the devil is in the details. A simple one line email might seem sufficient enough for you but “AC not working” doesn’t tell the landlord or their technician anything if you have more than one AC in your home.
We always suggest to our tenants to keep the title as simple as possible. So “AC not working” is fine as an introduction but more detail is needed for the body of the message. I’d suggest something on the lines of this:
“Was using the AC in the bedroom with the kiteboarding poster on the door of the bedroom. It was blowing cool air but we heard a loud pop and then the AC shut off. We’ve tried to turn it on again since but it won’t turn on now.”
This not only gives your landlord much needed information but it also prevents a lot of back and forth between you and your landlord. There’s no need to figure out where the problem is, what happened and how you tried to resolve it and what the out come was.
Depending on the severity of the issue and what exactly has an issue, you can actually look into some problems without consequence. If it’s an issue with your kitchen sink, a piece of furniture or even an internet or cable issue, it might be worth looking into yourself if you’re comfortable with trying to fix things. If you are comfortable and are able to fix it, make sure to let your landlord know anyway. What you’ve done might be a temporary fix and may need more expertise to fix so it doesn’t happen again.
Electrical, appliance and certain plumbing issues should be looked at by a professional and should be reported to your landlord as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
Whatever the case, make sure to find a temporary solution to prevent further damage until your landlord or their technicians can come out. A drip under the sink is a small issue, but left unchecked can damage the cabinetry to the point that it may need to be replaced all together. Placing a mop bucket, bowl or pot to catch the water is such a small action but can save you hundreds of dollars and headache.
It’s very important to understand that if it’s determined the problem wasn’t reported in a timely manner or you neglected the issue, you can be held responsible for the repairs.
Generally speaking, common sense is essential when dealing with problems in your home but here are some examples and how to avoid charges because of neglect:
- Bed frame breaks from people jumping on it. Place sturdy items under the frame to ensure it does break more.
- AC starts dripping inside your home. Stop using the AC until a technician can investigate. If this is not possible, place a bucket or other item to catch the water. Do not use towels to catch the water. Move any decorative items, furniture and electronics away from the leak.
- AC blowing warm air. Stop using the AC all together, this requires a technician.
- Toilet is leaking from the water valve or the toilet tank. Use a bucket or a pot to catch the water to avoid damage to around the toilet and possibly the floor below you.
- Fridge is not cooling. Check if items in the freezer are frozen, it’s possible the vent connecting the freezer to the fridge is blocked by items in the freezer.
Once your landlord has been notified, stay on top of them. It’s their job to make sure you are living comfortably and that your home is running as it should. It is actually in their best interest to fix the issues that come up, neglect is neglect and small issues can become costly if they are not handled in a timely manner.
If a technician has not come out to fix your issue, make sure to let your landlord know. If they come out but the issue isn’t resolved and you don’t receive word on why, make sure to keep on your landlord.
One of the hardest parts as a landlord when living and working on an island is getting the proper parts to fix issues. This can take a bit of time as parts need to be found, ordered, shipped to the island and finally passed through customs. It is unfortunate, but sometimes despite the best efforts the wrong parts can be ordered or even worse, very difficult to find both of which delay the entire process. Just bare with the process, but if you don’t get any updates, don’t be afraid of asking what’s up.