Edited questions from Apartment Life, Sara Gebhardt's online discussion about rental issues.
QArlington, Va.: Do you know the legal occupancy limit for a two-bedroom apartment? I have two friends who want to move in with me and share one of the bedrooms in order to save some money, but I'm not sure if that's permitted. None of us are related or married.
AA 10-by-15-foot bedroom typically is considered big enough for more than two people, so you could probably have two adults per bedroom according to most jurisdictions' occupancy laws. Sometimes jurisdictions allow for three people to live in a room, and sometimes the rules are subjective. Housing inspectors use a guideline of 70 square feet for one person in a bedroom or 100 square feet for two people in a bedroom.
Who pays?: My fiance and I live in an apartment (owned by a huge conglomerate) in Arlington. Last week our fridge spontaneously stopped working. We called maintenance and they came to check it out, and left a note that they had ordered a new fridge. The next day, when the fridge was decidedly room temp inside, I called back -- they came and put in a temporary fridge until the new one arrives.
My question for you is: Who pays for the $100-plus worth of food that spoiled in the time between when the fridge broke and when they brought in the replacement? I think it is their responsibility -- just like if the air conditioner leaked onto our sofa. What do you think?
I agree that your landlords should pay for the spoiled food, but this something they probably do not encounter enough to put such an agreement into a lease. Refrigerators have long lifespans. So, make your case to your landlord about your spoiled food, both verbally and in writing. And let me know what happens.
Glover Park, D.C.: Our building has hardwood floors, so of course some noise from walking around, moving furniture, etc. is to be expected and generally tolerated. Problem is, the woman upstairs seems to be practically stomping sometimes. It is so loud that our walls and lighting fixtures literally shake. On a number of occasions I've gone upstairs and asked her to calm down. It gets better for about an hour, then she's back at it. By 10 p.m., when the noise ordinance kicks in, I am in bed and not willing to get out to complain. What else could I possibly do to get some sleep or be able to watch a movie in peace?
Earplugs and silent movies? Perhaps not the best solution. Have you asked her to take off her shoes, or buy a rug? Some buildings have rules about rugs -- that 70 percent of a unit needs to be covered by a carpet of some sort. Check out your building rules and, if your upstairs neighbor is not complying, then ask your landlord to intervene.
Sara Gebhardt's Apartment Life column appears biweekly in this section, and her Web chat appears monthly on www.washingtonpost.com.