Do Landlords Have To Fix Squeaky Floors?
Many tenants are unaware of the demarcation between their responsibilities and their landlords’ responsibilities.
There are scores of issues that crop up in rented apartments. The most common problem in wooden-floored rented apartments is squeaky floors.
If you have rented an apartment with a squeaky floor, you might be asking, are landlords responsible for squeaky floors? And this might be the same question you are asking.
Just so that you might know, there is scarcely a single answer to this question.
But if your lease agreement explicitly says that your landlord is responsible for the floor maintenance and repairs, you can’t expect them to repair squeaky floors.
I found myself complaining many times when I lived in the suburbs.
In addition to having squeaking floors in my rooms, I also had to bear with noisy neighbors who lived beside and above my room.
This was a real challenge I had to cope with since there was also a squeaky floor right above me.
The situation was dire when I worked on night shifts since I could barely sleep during the day.
Children could be heard playing, their footsteps causing the floors to squeak.
Unfortunately, I found out that I couldn’t force my landlord to repair the floors, especially because of the laws in my state.
While my lease agreement remained ambiguous in issues like repairs, I was barred from seeking any legal redress by the state’s regulations.
Rules and regulations on apartment rentals normally vary from one state to another. And again, it might also depend on the agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
How Do You Fix A Squeaky Floor In A Rental?
If you do not take the initiative to have your squeaky floor fixed, then you might end up living in that condition for some time.
This is especially so if your lease agreement is silent on this. But you don’t have to put yourself through the pain of bearing such irritation when you can easily fix your floor.
Indeed, fixing a squeaky floor is an easy DIY project. As you walk around your house, perhaps you might be tired of hearing the creaking noise.
You might need to learn how to fix your floor in a few easy steps. Better still, you can hire a professional who will have the work done in a few hours.
But if you are a person who wants to do their repairs like me, then this is for you.
There are several types of floor (these include board to board, glue, environmental, or sub-floor) that are prone to moans, groans, creaks, and squeaks that can be remedied easily.
When repairing squeaky floorboards, the first thing to do is to locate the squeak. Yes, there is no way you will succeed in treating a squeak if you haven’t located it.
Identify the source and establish if the board causes it to boardglue, environmental, or sub-floor issues.
This is easy to find as you only need to walk over the area and mark it with a piece of chalk or any other marking.
After this, find the joist. If you can access beneath your floor, it is a lot easier to fix the squeak.
After finding the joist, you will need to work out the best fix.
You can use a torchlight to see if there’s a gap between the underside of the subfloor and the top floor joist. Regardless of how small a gap is, this is trouble.
Therefore, if you find any gap, insert a shim into the gap. Use a thin piece of wood and spread on sufficient carpenter’s glue, pushing it into the gap.
But you don’t want to push it or hammer it in since this will lift the above boards, occasioning an even worse squeak.
You only need to push it far enough to stop the floorboard from moving and making a sound. Proceed to trim the shim with a knife and get to enjoy your soundless floor!
After this, it’s time to fill longer gaps with adhesive.
While shims will silence specific gaps in isolated spots, longer gaps along the length of the floor joist will have to be filled with a strong set of construction adhesive.
The best that works with the required precision, in this case, is a caulking gun directed into the space between the top of the joist underside and the subfloor.
Proceed to fix the warped joist with extra boards and strengthen it with short screws. The last step will be to lubricate the floors.
What Are Landlords Obligated To Fix?
It’s your landlord’s responsibility to make your rental unit in a livable condition, though most renters live in less-than-ideal living conditions.
Drip, drip, drip of your leaking bathroom faucet may be very irritating, to the point of driving you insane.
Perhaps you have an unsightly stain in your living room carpet, or your kitchen painting has changed from crisp white to the dingy yellow of spoiled milk.
While these are scarcely big problems that you can’t live with, nevertheless, you don’t have to live with them.
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to keep the building’s structure sound, including stairways, roofs, and roofs.
The landlord should also keep the heating, heating, and plumbing systems maintained in optimal condition.
Again, the landlord is also obligated to exterminate infestations of pests like cockroaches.
If the landlord fails to address a major problem adequately, tenants in many states can choose to withhold the rent.
However, if such condition should arise from your negligence or carelessness;
Like pest infestation resulting from your poor housekeeping—your landlord is legally allowed to charge you for the repair.
Alternatively, the landlord can take the cost of repair from your security deposit.
Again, landlords are required to carry out minor repairs on their buildings, including leaky faucets, torn screens, old paint, torn screens, or worn flooring.
Although these problems are a nuisance and can hardly make the unit uninhabitable, your landlord might need to repair them.
But as to whether he is obligated by law, this will depend on the nature of the problem.
For instance, purely cosmetic repairs are not covered in law as they are less likely to require your landlord’s attention.
Compared to holes in carpeting that could trip someone or lose tiles that make the shower unusable.
Are Landlords Responsible For Squeaky Floors?
No, not exactly. Unfortunately, it’s sad to imagine that landlords are not responsible for fixing your squeaky floors in your wooden apartment.
Unless your lease agreement says so. But this is the truth. Normally, the landlord will act on an issue only if it pertains to the tenants’ security.
Therefore, it’s needful that you carefully read the lease agreement before you commit your money into a lease you are otherwise uncomfortable living with.
Remember, you will be living under the lease for as long as you have stated.
Additionally, check everything before renting an apartment made of wood, from faucets and water supply to squeaky floors.
You are better off inspecting the whole unit before you decide on signing the lease and avoid possible but preventable headaches.
For most tenants, the common problem is that they proceed to sign the contract without doing due diligence.
This is a path I have walked so often, and I know how disappointing it ends .
What’s more, you will end up feeling helpless, and you know how degrading it’s to see yourself helpless.
Remember, before the landlord rents out the apartment to the tenant; they are responsible for fixing the unit before opening it for lease.
However, this is mostly a business decision, not provided for in law. As long as a unit is livable, a landlord is legally allowed to rent it out.
And a squeaky floor is not a safety issue. Therefore, a landlord can rent it out in that irritable condition!
Should I Worry About Squeaky Floors?
While a squeaky floor creaking will help alert you of an intruder in the house, it isn’t very pleasant and, therefore, something you will want to fix.
Squeaky floorboards are something you should worry about, but this might also depend on the actual cause of the creaking itself.
For instance, if the squeaking is from a pipe that in turn makes the floor to the creek, this is something you will need to address instantly.
This is because the pipe’s joint will ultimately burst, flooding your home.
On the other hand, your creaky floor could be caused by movement between the joists below and the floorboards themselves.
It might also come from the nails or screws used in fixing the flooring or joists during construction.
But regardless of the cause, the squeak or creak will be caused if two or more things move and rub against each other, causing friction.
However, if your entire floor is creaking, you want to be ready for some big repair job.
On the other hand, if the creaking is just a spot here or there, you might be looking at a fairly quick and inexpensive repair job.
Can I Sue My Upstairs Neighbor For The Squeaky Floor?
Yes, maybe. But it will also depend on your contract.
Before you can sue, it’s essential to check with the local authorities to ensure any regulations that your neighbor might have broken.
Additionally, check for the same thing in your Bylaws, CC&Rs, and HOA rules. It’s possible to sue your upstairs neighbor for nuisance.
This will include an injunction against making such noise.
If you hired a good lawyer like me, and you can afford it.
I will start by seeking a prejudgment preliminary injunction to compel the neighbor to stop the noise while the lawsuit pends.
The Judges should use such injunctions to hold the status quo, but there is an exception if there are health and safety issues.
This would be a milestone since such a ruling would indicate the likely outcome of the case.
However, if the cost of addressing the issue would be modest, it would suit both sides if you agreed to settle the issue outside the court.
You can pay a lawyer for making the agreement instead of funding a lawsuit. Lawsuits are expensive.
The mere act of suing and doing adequate work to prove to the other side of their real risk might cost as much as $20,000.00.
On the other hand, a full trial, soundproofing expert witnesses, interpreting CC&Rs, and construction might cost $85,000 – $120,000.
The defendants, by churning the file with discovery and motions, can make it cost even more.
Consequently, you might find that the litigation has become more a war of attrition than justice. Additionally, your lawyer will be charging you by the hour.
The neighbor and the HOA will most likely be defended by their separate insurance policies, not paying their attorneys at all. At worst, they might pay as little as $5000.
Can I Withhold My Rent If Repairs Are Needed?
Yes, you can withhold your rent until your landlord repairs it. But the issue needs to be their responsibility and serious enough.
Sometimes, your landlord might be hesitant about something that they are required to fix.
If you deem the issue serious, it’s okay to stop paying rent to compel them to repair. However, it’s needful to understand some general guidelines.
Again, it will all depend on your state and your local authorities. Laws differ from state to state, and it’s, therefore, wise to acquaint yourself with the laws of your condition.
If you wish to do this thing, understand that it’s a serious issue that can get you evicted if you are on the wrong side of the law.
It’s better to be sure before you initiate the process.
When you withhold rent, it’s easy to notice a negligent landlord who hopefully will address your issue.
Additionally, it will negate any need on your part to hire a contractor or make the repairs. And this is important when what is at hand are serious repairs.
Unfortunately, it might take more time for your landlord to understand that you are withholding rent to address the issue.
Again, this may lead to a strained relationship with the landlord, making your life difficult.
Depending on the lease, a landlord might be compelled to fix squeaky floors.