A.D. Thompson
plumber fixing a sink

So, the lock on your apartment sticks. Or, maybe the tub's not draining correctly. Or, you keep forgetting to remind the super that the ice machine is on the fritz. And darn it – you keep forgetting to stop into the front office to let someone know.

Don't.

Apartment maintenance requests should always be put in writing.

But I trust my landlord!

That's great! Having a property manager who keeps his or her word is priceless, but even the most well-intended people can forget things. As such, sometimes proof becomes necessary.

Even though these days, there's far less actual paper in the paper trail, having an electronic conversation thread you can point to is even better as it automatically records dates and times. It will even help your landlord to have it, too, since having emails to reference can prevent misunderstandings and arguments before they happen.

Be formal

It doesn't matter if you and your landlord are on a first-name basis or even the best of friends. Maintenance issues in your apartment fall outside the bounds of friendship. Be cordial, certainly, but formal.

If there are forms (in office or online) required in order to submit a maintenance request, fill them out according to the rules of your community. If not – put together an email, detailing the issue you're having and what needs to be addressed or repaired. If you called prior to the request, note the date and time of that first contact.

Submit the form through the proper channels, whether online or as a hard copy in the leasing office and ensure the proper person is receiving it.

Be patient, keep records

Most maintenance issues are not dire emergencies, so find out from your leasing office when you can expect results. If the issue does not get resolved in the agreed upon time, then address it again – in writing.

Keeping things formal (and written) does three things. It provides proof that you have gone through the proper channels to achieve the objective you want. It gives your maintenance staff a record to access that lets them know what you need without them having to call back. And it forces accountability on the part of your rental community to address your issue in a timely fashion.

If you haven't already, you should create a folder (preferably one digital, one hard copy) into which all apartment-related documents will go – including maintenance requests.

It's likely that when your issue has been resolved, your property management company will leave a form for you to initial or even send an email that will allow you to mark your maintenance request closed.

If, after the fact, your problem has not been resolved, start the process over – again, in writing. Accurate records of everything from appointment times to other details (like whether you give them permission to fix something when you're out) ensure both parties feel confident that their genuine efforts to do the right thing are well documented.

Your landlord is likely keeping a diligent record of your tenancy – even if you're good friends. You should do the same.

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About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.

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