Ah, apartment repairs. No matter how new your rental apartment is, eventually something will break down and need to be fixed. According to Canadian Census data, 49% of single Torontonians live in apartments, so it stands to reason that we should learn how to make some minor repairs on our own. But how do you know if you should attempt to tackle the problem yourself or if you need to involve your landlord/apartment maintenance services?
Consult Your Lease: As always, the first thing you should do before even signing your lease is to see if there are any stipulations about rental apartment repairs. Does the landlord want you to call him or her for everything, or are you expected to make some repairs on your own? This could range from a squeaky door hinge to changing light bulbs outdoors. Know your rights and the expectations of the landlord before signing.
What’s Your Skill Level?: This can get tricky, as some people may overestimate their ability to repair something. However, if the problem simply involves tightening a leaky faucet, most of us can easily do this if we have the proper tools. Be smart, because if you end up making the problem worse you will be on the hook for any additional repair costs above and beyond the original problem. Before deciding to make any repairs on your own, let your landlord know what the issue is. They may tell you how to fix it yourself and ask if you are comfortable doing so. If you are not, let them know.
Electrical? No No!: If your problem is electrical in nature, do not – we repeat, DO NOT – attempt to fix it on your own. No matter how easy you think the fix may be, it is not worth risking your life. There are professionals that handle electrical issues and are trained to do it safely. Let your landlord know immediately if you are experiencing any issues with electricity and wiring.
Cockroaches, Mice and Insects: If you have a problem with any of the above pests in your apartment rental, you may be able to fix the situation on your own with mice traps, insecticide or other products bought at your local hardware store. However, it is important to consult with your landlord before using any of these products. If the problem is particularly bad, the landlord will definitely need to be involved, as the entire apartment may need to be sprayed. If you have an issue with fruit flies, you can easily fix this problem by removing garbage frequently.
When In Doubt…: If you are unsure of what to do, call your landlord. Remember that it is never acceptable to risk your life just to save a few dollars or to not “bother” your landlord with your repair issues. That is what they are there for! They want to ensure that you have a healthy and safe place to live. If you ever have a repair issue that your landlord is not addressing, you can call the Landlord and Tenant Board in your province to receive further guidance.
Be Prepared: Whether you have a roomie or are living solo in your apartment rental, here’s a small space checklist from apartmenttherapy.com:
Hammer: simply indispensable.
Tape Measure: for seeing if that new table you are dreaming about will really fit…
Screwdrivers: both types, in just a few sizes. You don’t need a gazillion of them.
Plunger: hopefully not needed often, but when you need it you need it NOW.
Metal Ruler and X-Aacto Knife/Razor: for measuring and cutting.
Stud Finder and Level: for hanging artwork, bookshelves and maybe even your TV.
Pliers, Vise Grip and Wrench: Simple plumbing fixes, bike repair and maintenance, tightening nuts and bolts.
Hand Drill: for hanging things, making holes, screwing in things; good for bigger jobs.
Duct Tape: for when all else fails.
Hex Keys: especially handy if you have pieces from IKEA or other DIY assembly furniture.
-The RentSeeker.ca Team