Many people get their first apartment during their college years. Being away from home in your early 20s is the perfect time to learn how to balance cooking, cleaning and other household chores with a busy schedule.
Unfortunately, some college apartments require more maintenance than the average student can provide. Usually cheap and often run-down, these rentals aren't exactly known for being reliable.
As a student, you have more on your plate than dealing with apartment maintenance problems. Even so, it's important to understand how to handle different issues before they become disasters.
Familiarize yourself with these six apartment emergencies so you can tackle them with ease.
1. Your fixtures are leaking
As a tenant, you have a right to running water in your home. If that water is always running though, that's a problem. Leaking pipes and fixtures are some of the most common problems people deal with when living in apartments, so you should know what to do when confronted with a plumbing problem.
When you first notice a leak, you need to decide whether or not it's a maintenance emergency. A dripping faucet, clogged drain or leak under the sink may not be serious. In fact, there are many problems you may be able to fix yourself, such as a clogged toilet. If the repair is complicated, contact your landlord to send out an expert.
If there's a substantial amount of water leaking or gushing from a pipe, you need to call your landlord right away to avoid extensive water damage. In some states, you may be able to withhold maintenance costs from your rent and pay for repairs yourself in the case of an emergency, especially if your landlord doesn't take appropriate action to address the issue.
2. Someone breaks in
In the case of a break-in, calling your landlord is probably the last thing on your mind — that's a good response. If you come home to find that someone has broken in, safety should be your first priority.
If you think someone might still be inside, leave immediately. When you're in a safe location, call the police. After they arrive, you can return to your apartment and start documenting any damage or stolen items.
Finally, call your landlord and let them know what's going on. If a window, lock or door is broken, request that they fix it quickly. Until repairs are complete, you may feel more comfortable staying with a friend.
3. You discover an infestation
College apartments are notorious for being dirty and run-down — but a pest infestation is another level of gross. If your apartment is infested with mice, roaches, bedbugs or other pests, talk to your landlord immediately about getting an exterminator.
Usually, this will clear up the problem, but if your landlord doesn't act within a reasonable amount of time, you may be able to report them to the health department. No one wants to study with critters crawling around, so seek help right away instead of waiting the problem out.
4. There’s no climate control
If your apartment comes with heating and an air conditioning unit, your landlord is responsible for making sure they function. In extreme heat or cold, lack of air conditioning or heating might become an emergency, so call your landlord and request repairs as soon as you notice a problem.
In the meantime, manage your temperature indoors by wearing weather-appropriate clothes, using a fan or space heater and staying hydrated in hot weather.
5. The ceiling or structure looks saggy
Whether the ceiling is warping due to your upstairs neighbor or sagging of its own accord, take care to address this structural issue as soon as you notice it.
If you find a problem, contact your landlord immediately. If they don't fix it, you may want to contact the health department and research tenant rights in your area.
6. You suspect dangerous airborne particles
Mold and gas leaks can have dangerous consequences, especially if they go unnoticed. If you suspect there is mold or a gas leak in your apartment, you should call maintenance immediately.
Gas can be flammable and dangerous if inhaled. If you think you smell gas, turn off all offending appliances and wait outside until emergency services arrive, just to be safe.
Ask for help if you think you need it!
Living in an apartment for the first time can come with a lot of questions. Sometimes a routine repair may seem like an emergency or the other way around.
If you need help handling an emergency, call your landlord or someone else you trust to give you a hand. By acting quickly and asking for help when you need it, you can keep your living quarters safe and comfortable.