The uncomfortable reality of renting is that it is, as the term would imply, rented space as opposed to being owned. When it comes to apartment maintenance and upkeep, what’s expected of tenants can differ from one rental to the next. While most of us would probably be inclined to report a glaring issue like mold, leaky faucets, or recurring pest problems that warrant a landlord’s action, there are certain standards that those renting must also uphold.
There are a few universal things that landlords almost everywhere dislike seeing in an apartment, and if left unaddressed, may put you at odds with your building’s management. They are:
Absorbent Pee Pads
Often called “wee wee pads,” these absorbent pads can be found in many a dog owner’s apartment. They may seem like a smart idea if you’re trying to potty train a puppy, but they’re ultimately unsanitary and aren’t always effective, as puppies may not know how to use the pad or just disregard it. The biggest problem lies in the fact that they can emit a strong odor over time that permeates the whole unit, not to mention reinforces bad behavior from your four-legged friend. Pee pads basically communicate to your dog that it’s okay to pee inside the apartment, and quite frankly, it just isn’t.
Perhaps your building has restricted smoking to designated areas like outdoor balconies, or maybe there’s a policy outright banning it on the property. Try to be aware of and follow these rules as best you can, if only out of respect for fellow tenants and management. Smoking not only presents a public health hazard, but the smoke can migrate to other units and cause problems for others who may not appreciate the smell, or who have a health condition like asthma that’s exacerbated by secondhand smoke. Either way, it’s best to take your smoke breaks elsewhere.
An essential part of a landlord’s job is to listen to their tenants and ensure that everyone’s happy. Practicing your music at full volume isn’t likely to make your neighbors happy, and when your landlord has to field calls from angry tenants, they won’t be too happy, either. The noise and vibrations from amplifiers and loud instruments creates a nuisance for those around you who don’t want to feel like they’re constantly in a concert arena. Do everyone else a favor and either practice in a proper studio, or invest in some headphones that can be plugged into your instrument (provided it has a headphone jack, of course).
Appliances Left Running
Not much needs to be said here — it’s dangerous to leave appliances like stovetops or dryers turned on when you’re not around. If you forget to turn them off, or leave them on unattended when you’re away from the apartment, the circuitry or other mechanical elements could overheat and cause a fire. Water damage can also result from faulty washing machine hoses that leak, causing flooding in your unit. Responsible tenants always remember to turn off appliances when they know they won’t be around to monitor them, just in case something goes wrong.
Excessively relying on space heaters during the colder months isn’t a wise idea. Although they generate heat quickly, they shouldn’t be used for prolonged amounts of time — and they certainly shouldn’t be left turned on when you go to sleep or leave the apartment for any duration (see above). Space heaters are responsible for thousands of house fires every year, and with that, injuries and even some fatalities. You’ll find that landlords often view them as a fire hazard and don’t allow them, period.
Even when carefully supervised, a space heater can be a cause for concern. If you absolutely can’t live without one in the wintertime, you can at least take some common-sense precautions. For starters, you’ll want to look for one that meets robust safety standards and is outfitted with some kind of barrier around the parts that become hot to the touch. Periodically check the space heater for frayed wires and dust, and don’t keep it in an area where it could get exposed to moisture.
A trend most commonly associated with the 1980s, the waterbed has since waned in popularity with today’s consumers. Considering the sheer amount of effort and maintenance that waterbeds require — draining the water out, re-filling it, and repairing any leaks — you might want to re-think owning one. If it springs a leak, you’re looking at water damage that could cost hundreds of dollars in repairs. Any way you slice it, waterbeds are a liability and should be avoided, especially given the many choices out there that are just as (if not more) comfortable but without the hassle.
Though it’s natural to want to put your own personal touch on the apartment, any major updates need to be given the green light in advance. These include drilling or hammering nails into the walls, updating appliances, or painting the walls. By not communicating any desired renovations and getting them approved, you run the risk of losing your security deposit. What you see as minor changes may turn out to be a lot of work down the road for a landlord, as holes will need to be filled in or patched up and walls re-painted once you move out.
Giving some thought to these things will keep you in the good graces of your landlord and pretty much guarantee that you won’t compromise your security deposit. If there are any other gray areas you aren’t totally sure about, it’s always a good idea to consult with your landlord. Be mindful, be courteous, and remember that you and property management are in this together.