Give Your Property Owner Written Notice: A telephone call to management is not sufficient. Write a letter requesting that repairs be made. Make a duplicate copy and have the manager sign both copies. Be sure to keep a copy for your files. If the manager refuses to sign the request for repairs, send the notice by certified mail. This will cost about $3.00 at any post office and includes a returned receipt showing that the manager received the notice.
Wait a Reasonable Time: Reasonable time depends on the nature of the repair. A clogged toilet (if it is the only one in the apartment) would necessitate repair quicker than a dripping faucet. Repairs requested at peak move-in times will require more time than at other times during the semester. Holidays should also be considered when defining a “reasonable time.” On the average, a “reasonable time" can be interpreted as 5-7 working days.
Submit a Second Written Notice if Repairs Have Not Been Made: Again, have the manager sign both copies and keep a dated copy for your files. Depending on the type of repair, you may indicate in your second notice that you may consider terminating your lease if repairs are not completed within one week’s time (this time period may vary.) Do not assume that you can make repairs yourself and be reimbursed for the expenses or deduct it from your rent.
Emergency Repairs: Emergency repairs are repairs necessary for your health and safety and must be taken care of within a reasonable amount of time. Such repairs include: gas leaks, broken locks, exposed electrical wiring, etc. Air conditioning problems are not considered an emergency unless you are elderly or have small children.
Landlord Entering Apartment: By giving notice for repair, the management has the right to enter your apartment whether or not you are there. They should always leave a note that they were there. The note should state when and why they entered and the repairs performed.
Withholding Rent: You cannot legally withhold rent because repairs have not been made. In a few cases, you may negotiate a rent reduction settlement with management. If this is done, be sure to get the agreement in writing. If the lease states that the management is not responsible for repairs, you cannot terminate your lease if repairs are not made. The law implies a warranty by the property owner that the apartment or house will be habitable. This means that the property owner must repair any condition that materially affects your safety and/or health. examples of such conditions might include sizable roof damage, water hazards, or major pest problems. The law provides a procedure for requesting repairs and gives specific rights in court against the property owner if repairs are not made.
- Make sure smoke detectors are working properly. You should test the batteries at least once a month, and install new ones at least once a semester.
- DO NOT remove batteries from smoke detectors to prevent false alarm. This will prevent alarms when an emergency does arise.
- You should know at least two ways out of every room.
- Make an escape plan in case of emergencies and if possible, practice it at least once.
- Do not overload outlets.
- Don’t leave candles or incense unattended. Make sure candles aren’t in the vicinity of anything flammable including curtains, posters, fabrics, etc.
- Make sure the wattage in your light bulbs matches the correct wattage for the fixtures.
- For those of you with washers and dryers, don’t run the dryer without a lint trap. Make sure to clean the lint trap regularly.
- Don’t leave food unattended on the stove or in the microwave. Make sure the stove and all burners are off before leaving the house.
- Make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished when finished, and when smoking, make sure to use a sturdy, non-tipping ashtray. NEVER smoke in bed!
- Be very careful with space heaters and keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from water heaters, heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces (THIS INCLUDES FURNITURE)!
- Keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.
In Case of Fire
- NEVER ignore a fire alarm. Leave at once and close all doors behind you on your way out.
- Once you are out of harm’s way, call 911 immediately.
- Use the stairs. DO NOT take the elevator.
- Test every door for heat. If a door feels hot or you see smoke seeping out, DO NOT OPEN IT.
- Crawl low if you are in smoke.
- If possible, cover your mouth with a cloth to avoid inhaling smoke or gases. Many people who die in fires actually die from smoke inhalation, not from the flames.
- DO NOT go back in, no matter what!
- Lock doors, even when intending to return home shortly or just walking in the area.
- Keep exterior doors locked, especially in an apartment with shared living spaces. It takes a thief ten seconds or less to enter an open room and steal property.
- Lock or secure doors and windows when home alone or asleep.
- Do not leave exterior doors propped open.
- Never leave keys in hiding places.
- Do not let strangers enter your home.
- If someone asks to use the telephone for an emergency, offer to call for them instead of allowing access to your home or apartment.
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Notify the police if any unfamiliar person is hanging around your residence.
- Always remove the key and lock the car.
- Lock bikes to immovable objects or bike racks with hardened alloy locks and chains or U-shaped lock.
- Do not leave tempting property visible inside the car. Lock items in the trunk.
- Lock mopeds as you would bikes.
- Park in well-lit areas.
If You Sense That You Are In Trouble
- Move away from the potential threat if possible.
- Join a group of people nearby; cross the street and increase your pace.
- If a threatening situation is imminent, and people are close by to help, yell, scream, or make a commotion in any way you can to get their attention.
- Go to an open business.
- Call 911 from a safe location.