Edited questions from Apartment Life, Sara Gebhardt's online discussion about rental issues.
QArlington: How reasonable is it for me to ask my landlord -- an individual with one investment property -- to repaint my bathroom? The bathroom does not have a fan; while we try to keep the window open while showering, the paint has begun to peel in many areas.
AIt is very reasonable. Assuming you have been a good tenant for two years, your owner should want to make you happy by painting the bathroom.
Washington: I'm in my first apartment, and there are problems galore. The tub is stopped up with something Drano can't handle. The balcony door will not lock. The door jamb at the front door is missing. Stickers on walls were painted over and the property manager brought paint for me to try to redo it. The bathtub is painted with epoxy (I think) over dirt and grime but won't be redone. Nothing is being done by property management or owner. Twice, they scheduled contractors but no one showed up.
Should I be able to break the lease and get away with no problem? Must I get a lawyer to assist me? I'm young and naive and made a big mistake, but they are taking advantage of me, I think.
You are not necessarily stuck, but you will have to get some help, such as a lawyer or tenant advocate. Many renters find themselves in situations they did not expect. That's why it helps to check everything in an apartment while looking at it.
Tell your landlord you are thinking of taking action. It may stir your property manager to fix the problems. If not, contact the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition (www.tenac.org) or another Washington tenant group and seek some advice.
Sara Gebhardt's Apartment Life column appears biweekly in this section, and her Web chat appears monthly on www.washingtonpost.com.