Sometimes, “do it yourself” isn’t the best approach.
Whether you live in an old house or a brand new luxury apartment building, there’s going to be normal wear and tear. Accidents happen, things break and at some point, your rental is going to need repairs.
You might have a faucet that drips or your air conditioner may not be working on a hot summer day. When there’s something that needs to be fixed, you probably shouldn’t try to fix it yourself. Instead, you should submit a maintenance request.
What is a maintenance request?
A maintenance request is a formal letter to your landlord asking to repair something that you can’t or don’t feel comfortable fixing on your own. It provides details to your landlord about what needs to be fixed so they can make the necessary repairs.
What should I fix myself and when should I send a letter to my landlord for repairs?
While there are some small repairs you can make on your own, most fixes require specialized help. Changing out a lightbulb or putting a new battery in the smoke detector is something you can easily do yourself. But if there’s anything that requires professional help — a water leak coming from your sink or your furnace isn’t working — tinkering with it could result in further damage, so you should file a maintenance request.
Where to submit your maintenance request
Your rental contract should specify where and how to make a maintenance request. If you’re in an apartment building, there’s probably a streamlined process with maintenance request forms that you submit to management or even a way to do it online. Whereas if you’re renting directly from the person that owns a property, you might be able to email or even text them directly to take care of the issue.
However, if something is extremely urgent, such as a burst water pipe, gas leak or other emergency situation, you should call management or your landlord immediately. Typical maintenance requests could take a few days, sometimes even weeks to get taken care of, and a time-sensitive repair needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
How to write a maintenance request
You should always make a maintenance request in writing. This ensures that you will have a record of your request and when it was made. It doesn’t need to be anything long and fancy, it simply needs to describe the issue so the landlord knows the proper arrangements to make for the repair.
Sample letter to your landlord for repairs
You can use the template below to write a maintenance request for your landlord or property manager. Simply download our sample letter and replace everything in the parentheses ( ) with your information or specific request.
(City, State, Postal Code)
(Landlord or Management Name)
(City, State, Postal Code)
Re: Maintenance Request for Apartment (Apartment number)
Dear (Landlord or Management),
I am writing to inform you of (repair that needs to be made — plumbing, HVAC, electrical, appliance, etc.) and to request that it be repaired.
(Further description of the issue. Example: The main outlet in the living room isn’t working. I tried plugging in the TV and it wouldn’t turn on, so to further test the issue, I attempted to plug in my phone charger, but it also didn’t work. I tried both the top and bottom outlet, but neither seems to be working.)
Please let me know when you can arrange for the repair to be made. I would appreciate if it could be done as soon as possible.
Please let me know if you have any questions or details about the repair that I should be aware of. You can reach me at (your phone number) and (your email).
Use your best judgment
You can fix some things on your own, while others need professional help. And some things are time-sensitive, while others can wait. Use your best judgment to gauge when you should fix something vs. submitting a maintenance request or to decide if something is an emergency.
If there’s something that could cause lots of damage if not taken care of immediately, you should call your landlord as soon as possible, rather than submitting a maintenance request that could potentially take days.
And if you’re on the fence and don’t quite know if you should make a repair or call your landlord, always err on the side of caution and inform your landlord. They may tell you to make the repair yourself in the end, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!