“Who’s Going to Fix This?” and Other Renter Dilemmas

If you immigrated to Canada, and you’re currently living in a rented apartment, house, townhome, flat or condo, some version of the following statement has come out of your mouth:

  • The toilet is broken. Who’s going to fix it?
  • The colour of the walls is horrible. Can we paint them?
  • The cupboard door fell off. Should I fix it myself?
  • The cable has stopped working. Who should we call?

You know it’s going to happen. The tap will begin dripping in rhythm, the furnace will cough because it needs a new filter, the edge of the carpet will turn up from the wall in a rude gesture, the light fixture will start flickering like the beginning of a bad horror movie, or the refrigerator will make a grim clanking sound and suddenly refuse to refrigerate, no matter how many times, or in how many languages, you swear at it.

So… who’s going to fix all this?

There may be all kinds of different renting rules in different countries of the world. But the rule for rental repairs and maintenance in Canada is, Ask Your Landlord. No two landlords or property managers seem to see the question the same way.

Some landlords are fine with having their tenants do small household repairs, like changing the washers in the tap or stapling down the carpeting. Others are fine with you calling a repair service to fix that stubborn fridge, and will gladly reimburse you for what you’ve paid the repair person. Still others don’t want you to touch anything, and insist on taking care of all the property maintenance themselves.

The same goes for interior decorating. Some landlords will paint the place for you when you move in. Others won’t; you’ll have to do it yourself. Some landlords have restrictions on what colours you can paint the walls, and if you’re renting a condo there may even be rules for what colour your window-coverings can be. Other landlords might not care. So if you have a decorating project in mind, like painting or wallpapering or crown-mouldings or wall-to-wall carpet, check with your landlord first.

The best way to maintain a good relationship with your landlord, besides paying your rent on time, is to take good care of the place where you live. Make sure the property is clean and looked-after, and find what kinds of maintenance and repairs the landlord wants you to do, and what sorts of things will be the landlord’s problem. It will save you from a lot of headaches during your time as a tenant.

This story is from the "How to be a Happy Renter" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here