Survival Guide: Renting Rules

By: Abby Owen

Growing up, if something were to break around the house or a light would go out, you could probably tell someone else so they could fix it. Now if this happens, you have to fix it yourself – or at least call someone else to come fix it. You might have noticed Bellingham has a lot of older houses. The house I lived in last year was over 100 years old. My roommates and I were told not to put Drano down the shower drain. So I called my property management company to come fix it instead of buying a snake, which is what I should have done. I didn’t put the pieces together that for calling for a repair we’d be charged $40.

Before you move into a new place, take videos that show the date, i.e. showing the date on a newspaper to document any damages done prior to moving in. That way, if your property managers/managment company tries to blame you for damages you didn’t do, you have proof. Getting your security deposit back is great – it’s money you probably forgot about.

The goal in high school was to prepare you for college, but only the academic side of college. For many students, this is your first time on your own. You’ve never had to deal with your washer breaking, or the heater going out. If something like that happens, call your property manager right away. For bigger repairs, they should repair/replace the issue in a timely manner. They don’t need to give you a 24 hour notice to enter the house. If it’s a smaller repair like fixing a light, they should schedule a time to come out, and give you prior notice before entry.

Any bills from repairs should show up on the upcoming rent’s amount. If you are unsure of the charge, or want further explanation, call your property manager. They need to send an itemized bill for anything they charge you for besides rent. If you need specific legal advice about your rights as a tenant, you can go downtown to city hall for free legal advice.

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