Landlords & Tenants- Part 1
Something broke in the apartment I rent. Should I fix it? (Probably not, if you do not read this blog)
Do not use this blog as a substitute for legal advice. Every situation is different. This is for educational purposes and to be used at your own risk. If you have further questions or if the situation is complex, please call the office for a consultation at 3363100780.
A common situation between a tenant and landlord – something breaks, and a tenant offers to fix it and pay less rent the next month. Maybe it is an emergency, the landlord is out of town, it is a holiday weekend... The tenant may be a professional in the problem needing to be fixed, or it is a low-cost simple fix. This is legal in the state of North Carolina...if completed properly.
Please read that last part again.
One of the responsibilities of a Tenant is to pay all the rent. The End, game over, period. This is the #1 rule, and it is an important one. So, to change the rent amount (even if the landlord agrees) you need to take a few extra steps. Otherwise, you are in violation of your lease and can be evicted or charged a late fee even if you legitimately made the repairs that your landlord agreed to!
Steps to take:
1. Put it in writing. Include the price for the repair, address, date, and clearly state you will pay less rent next month. Get the landlord’s signature or send via certified mail to prove the landlord received it.
2. If this is an emergency, try to have a friend witness the conversation. Worst case, send a text to your landlord and get his confirmation via text.
3. Keep all receipts and documentation of the completed work.
4. Keep the landlord apprised of the progress and inform them once the work has been completed.
This may seem excessive. Your landlord is a nice person, and it is easier for you to fix what is broken. You may have done this in the past with no problems. However, if something is miscommunicated, work is not completed in the way that makes the landlord happy, or any other problem outside of your control, it could hurt YOU. The burden is on the tenant to prove the landlord knew and agreed for you to do the repair or to pay rent no matter what.
It is especially important to read your lease and understand the steps required to ensure repairs are made in your rental situation. Not all landlords are bad, but most are overworked. They do not have the time, nor do they make the effort to follow up on repairs, following the lease requirements. Therefore, you need to hold your landlord accountable by knowing what the lease requires.
For further information:
North Carolina General Statute Chapter 42 https://www.ncleg.gov/Laws/GeneralStatuteSections/Chapter42