Some damage to the exterior of your rental is likely, from weather and other normal wear-and-tear. However, there are some bigger, accidental apartment damages that may be outside of your control.
For example…outside my apartment is our mailbox, which is built from brick and sits directly next to a busy street. Last week, there was a car accident on that road (no injuries!) that resulted in our mailbox being completely demolished! Not only was the brick structure in pieces, but our physical mailbox is bent and misshapen. Clearly, this was some severe damage, but wasn’t my fault.
When the damage is not your fault
In instances like the one above…what’s the best way to stay protected and ensure damages are estimated properly and fixed speedily? The key is communication with your landlord!
Call, don’t text or email your landlord first! Be sure they are aware of the damage, especially if it’s affecting your ability to stay in your apartment. After speaking with them on the phone, send a dated email recapping the conversation to their professional inbox, so the conversation is saved “on record.”
Document any damage with photographs immediately, and try to do so before repair crews begin to clean up the scene. Only if it’s safe to do so!
3. Provide landlord with images
Save the images in a safe place, but also send them to your landlord if they weren’t able to take pictures themselves. While they should come to the site pretty quickly after the damage is reported, it may be useful to provide them with photo evidence as they begin to sort out the solution.
4. Stay in contact for a repair plan
Don’t assume your landlord will have the repairs done immediately! Instead, stay in consistent contact with them as to the state of repairs and a timeline for you to expect them to be completed. By staying in touch, the landlord will be reminded of the project and how it impacts your living situation. Be patient but adamant that the repairs are done quickly and properly.
When the damage is your fault
When damages are your fault, it’s a different story and may impact the amount of security deposit you receive back when you move out of your apartment, or your landlord may require you to pay for any repairs. Be prepared for both of those options if you cause damage to your apartment. If the damage is severe, you may want to get an outside independent estimate of repair cost, so you can negotiate with your landlord.
Whatever you do, don’t try to hide the damage. For example, if it was your pet that did it, fess up and offer to pay. Also, check with your renter’s insurance to see if the damage may be covered.