A Tenants Guide on Running an Apartment / Gathering Proof
Created by Christie Delphia
Burlington Tenants Union + Organizing Acting Member
A bit of information is in line here. I have been seeing more and more posts about nasty dealings with Landlords. Here is what I have practiced while renting in my 36 years.
In this age of technology, the ability to take pictures and video have become a great source of proof against Landlords’ disrespectful and illegal actions. Below is a list of things you can do to protect yourself against some of the shifty dealings by a bad/scummy Landlord, some including the use of technology.
- Apartment Log – Keep a notebook or a binder of lined paper starting the day you move in. Put the address to the apartment/house on the front or front page. Legibly write down every dealing you have with bad neighbors, the Landlord/Property Manager, and maintenance people with the date and time of every incident that occurs, and if there was anyone other than you to witness the incident.
- Paperwork Folder – Keep a folder for your paperwork, and include the apartment address on the front. The paperwork being every notice handed to you by the Landlord in the order it was received by date. Any letter you may have to send to the Landlord for repair requests (keep copies for yourself), and receipts from any work you have had to pay for yourself; this includes having work done by a professional.
- Payment Envelope – Keep an envelope (with the unit’s address on it) for rent receipts, realizing banks systems fail and information gets lost. Pay your rent with Money Orders (purchasing them from the post office or grocery stores will be cheaper) so you can keep the receipts in case the Landlord tries to say you didn’t pay the rent. This will enable you to use the receipt number to look up on the Post Office’s website to see who cashed it. This may be an inconvenience – but in the long run it will pay off.
- Pictures & Videos – Take loads of them! You do not have to have a professional camera to take the “perfect” picture to defend your case. When something/anything needs to be repaired take a picture of it (dates are automatically saved in the digital picture properties) and write in your log that the picture was taken of what and why, and that the repair request was sent to the Landlord/Manager. If there is an issue with someone, including the Landlord/Manager or repair personal, you CAN record them while dealing with them. If you are the only one there, take a video whatever way you can. Make sure you back these up in case your device breaks. Both iPhones and devices using Google Photos can be set up to automatically back these up.
- Security – If you have had repeated issues with a neighbor and your Landlord/Manager refuses to address the issue to resolve it, in Vermont, you can use part of your rent money to buy cameras and motion activated lights to take videos in and around your unit to protect yourself and your belongings.
- Technology – Now that we have email, some Landlords have gone to only emailing their notices. This has not been legally addressed or approved as legal notice, a new landlord tactic here in Vermont. If your Landlord or Property Manager is employing this tactic, make a new folder in your email client and move whatever emails you receive from them into that folder. Mark it with the Landlord’s/Manager’s name or business.
Above are some of the things we can do to protect ourselves from disrespectful, scummy, illegally acting Landlords and Property Managers. Keep in mind you are not alone in this. We, the Burlington Tenants Union, are here to help you with the next steps after you have done everything above.