Moving into a new rental property can be exciting, but it is not always clear when you are facing problems if the landlord is responsible for fixing them. And it’s not even a matter of who should make the repairs; sometimes you would be happy to do it yourself if it was relatively easy and inexpensive. But rental agreements can prohibit you from fixing things. war
Determining whether a landlord is responsible for mending squeaking floors or when they are responsible will depend on the terms of your rental agreement as well as the cause of the squeaking. There are several causes of squeaky floors, but it is not always easy to know which one applies to your situation.
In general, landlords are only responsible for repairing squeaky floors if the reason for squeaking is structural in nature, making the house/apartment uninhabitable. Occasionally, leases stipulate that all squeaks will be fixed. If downstairs neighbors sue, landlords may be compelled to take action.
Read the Rental Agreement
Your first port of call is to read through your rental agreement. Whether your landlord is responsible for fixing squeaky floors varies from case to case, and your lease may hold the answer to this question.
- Some leases will say that no matter the cause of the squeak, the landlord will repair it.
- Some say that the landlord will at least investigate the reason behind the noise and reserve the right to make repairs depending on the outcome thereof. So, if the squeaks are non-structural in origin, then nothing will be done, but if they are structural, then repairs will be made.
- Your rental agreement may stipulate that the landlord will fix squeaks if the tenant can prove reasonably that they are indications of danger to the tenant.
- Of course, there are many leases that will not mention squeaks at all. In such cases, you will have to approach your landlord and see where they stand on the matter.
- If they say that they will check it out to be safe, then great! But this also does not mean that they will fix it. They might be content to know that the squeaking is not dangerous and have no motivation to address the issue further.
- Should they tell you that the squeaking is normal, irrespective of proof thereof, then it will be up to you to prove that it is not, which will likely cost you.
If, after reading through your rental agreement, you are still unsure if squeaky floors are covered, then if you are wondering if squeaky floors are covered. If the wordy document leaves you confused, give your landlord a call to get a concrete answer for your situation.
If your landlord is the type of person who will just deny responsibility regardless of what the lease actually says, you can investigate the cost of legal advice to see if this is a viable option for you.
Landlords Must Make Apartment Habitable
While squeaky floors can certainly be a nuisance to the tenant and downstairs neighbors, not all squeaks indicate that the floor is structurally unsound. In fact, more often, it is the result of loosening boards in the subfloor and weather-related changes.
Landlords certainly have a responsibility to fix things in a rental. However, they are typically only responsible for the repairs necessary to maintain the structural integrity of a home and make it habitable. This may or may not include squeaks, depending on the cause of the squeak.
If your rental agreement says that the landlord will not be responsible for fixing squeaking floors, but you can prove that the squeaks indicate an issue that poses a risk to safety, then you can probably bring legal action against the landlord and get this stipulation overruled.
Why Are the Floors Squeaking?
The House Is Just Old
Old homes are notorious for having squeaky floors as the subfloor comes loose over years of wear. This does not mean that there is structural damage to the home.
If you knowingly moved into an old, creaking house, then you cannot expect the landlord to fix squeaking floors when the charm wears off and they start to grate you.
When you put your signature on the lease, you agree to the rental terms and have agreed that the apartment is acceptable as is. Signing a lease on an old home is usually agreeing to some floor squeaking.
The Floor Suddenly Started Squeaking
If you moved into a home with no squeaking floors, and then, after a few months, the floors start creaking like those of a 100-year-old house, then you should definitely contact your landlord. The sudden onset of squeaking can be an indicator of serious issues.
The landlord may even appreciate the information as your house or apartment is their investment.
However, sudden creaking can also occur due to something simple like the weather, so consider whether it seems to get worse during the dry, cold season. If so, investing in a humidifier might help your case.
New Construction Squeaking
It’s a huge headache of a scenario, but sometimes it happens. You move into a newly built house expecting it to be clean, quiet, and pristine, and suddenly squeaking floors breaks your tranquility.
However, since it is a new build, the landlord will be more likely to want to and be able to fix the issue. Even if the squeaking is not structural in origin, a new house should not be squeaking, and will likely still be covered under construction warranty. So, if you moved into a new house/apartment and the floors are squeaking, you can inform your landlord.
They will then try to get the builder to fix it if the warranty does not exclude it. If the landlord is not responsible for the cost, they might be more likely to put in the effort to get it sorted.
Are There Signs of Deeper Issues?
In uncommon cases, squeaking floors can be a sign of a deeper, more problematic issue affecting the structure of the home. Some things to watch out for are if the floor sinks, smells musty, or if there is mold visible along the walls and baseboards.
These are signs and symptoms of water-damaged flooring. Consider if there is a source of water near where the floor squeaks worst. This could be a vent or a leak of some sort.
Water damage can slowly disintegrate the structure of the floor as well as provide a breeding ground for mold and termites, which can damage the floor further and create an unsafe living environment.
You Can Pay for an Inspection
If you are very troubled by the squeaking, but there are no other obvious signs of a deeper issue, you can pay a professional, or preferably more than one, to come out and inspect the floors.
If the inspectors say it’s normal squeaks, you have no argument to make to your landlord to fix them. The landlord won’t have to fix the superficial issue.
However, if the inspectors express concern regarding the structural integrity of the floor, then your landlord will be forced to, at least, investigate and do their own research to ensure that they aren’t liable for renting out an unsafe home. Structural issues also mean they will likely have to pay for the repairs.
A home inspection will come at a cost to you, likely an hourly rate for whoever you are having come check out the house plus the cost of the report. However, if the squeaking floors seem concerning, it may be worth it for your peace of mind to get them inspected.
Are Downstairs Neighbors Complaining?
Your downstairs neighbors can come to you all they want to complain about your squeaking floors, you still can’t make your landlord fix them. You will either have to live with a complaining neighbor (there is little that they can do to make you take action, apart from making your life miserable), or repair the squeaks yourself.
Sometimes, this is difficult to do in a rental where you cannot make invasive repairs. However, there are a few solutions you can attempt to mend your squeaky rental floors. If these don’t work you can try to take steps towards walking more quietly.
If you are dealing with an irate and sleep-deprived downstairs neighbor, try to be polite and friendly. Let them know that you are trying to get the squeaks sorted, but you rent the property and the landlord is not willing to repair the floors.
But if it gets serious enough that your downstairs neighbors are threatening to sue, check your lease agreement or even consult a legal professional. This will help you determine who is responsible for settling the dispute, whether it’s you or the landlord.
If the landlord would be the one being sued over this issue, as opposed to you, the tenant, then they will probably hop quickly to fix the squeaks in order to avoid the large legal hassle.
Is It the Same in the UK?
In the UK, the situation varies from rental property to rental property as much as it does in the US. Some rental agreements might state that the landlord is responsible for squeaking floors, while others might state that the landlord is only responsible for structural issues.
Other rental agreements have clauses about maintaining a quiet environment. If squeaking floors are a loud enough issue, they may at times violate this clause, and the landlord would then be responsible to fix them. Although it isn’t likely squeaking floors would be that loud, this is possible.