Welcome to the first steps of growing up! The college house/apartment is one of the first things you can't wait to move into. The dorms were so drab - ugh having all your friends nearby and walking distance to class and food - lame!
You and some of your current closest friends are now on an adventure of finding a place, and then learning to live in a house/apartment together. It is all so exciting and scary then you learn to compromise and create routine. The house/apartment you find is PERFECT!
Then tragedy strikes. Something in your house breaks. For this instance, lets say a burst pipe. There is water everywhere in your basement and someone is exiled from living in their bedroom. There have been 20,000+ gallons of water filtering through your house.
Of course you call your landlord and they are desperate to tell you that it was just a fluke incident from the weather, and that if we had purchased renter's insurance, he'd be willing to fix it, but we did not.
Long story short, buy renter's insurance. Short story long, dealing with a difficult landlord can make or break your living experience. When dealing with a difficult landlord, the main thing is to stay calm. If you freak out they tend to get frustrated and then will be less likely to help you.
Another tip is to make them think that fixes are a good investment and are their idea. They are most likely sticklers about money, so showing them that it is worth the money to have smoke detectors, they will most likely buy some. Speaking from experience on this specific example. ha.
Chances are you want to be left alone most of the time, and they also don't want to keep coming over to your house. So, when they come to fix something ask them to do a couple other tasks to keep his visits scarce.
Last tidbit. If you have a old house that has chronic problems, learn to just deal with it. That funny smell in the basement corner is probably never going to be fixed since it first appeared in 1998, so the landlord is never going to fix it. Unfinished bathrooms will always be unfinished, and it's best to just suck it up and not be a diva.