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I see a lot of questions from people who have problems in properties that they rent. When should a DIY question from a renter be answered with "Its not your problem call your landlord"?

Non-permanent improvements, like maybe some non-attached shelves, are good projects for renters. Actual repairs or permanent alterations should be the responsibility of the landlord.

What is the policy or best-practice here at DIY.StackExchange to help renters? When should renters be discouraged from DIY and filing a repair request with their landlord?

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Another thing to consider when answering, is that the answer should be helpful to more than just the OP. So you may be helping the renter directly, but you might also be helping a bunch of homeowners as well.

In the end, it's really the responsibility of the person doing the project to determine the legality of the project.

You could always answer the question in a way that would also help others, and then append a warning "Check with your landlord before starting this project", "Check local building codes before starting this project"

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Really, that isn't our problem. Maybe the landlord is too incompetent / lazy / cheap to get the job done. Maybe the landlord is paying the tenant to do some improvements. Maybe the tenant is fine with paying penalties so long as he gets to have track lighting while he's living in the place...

There are all sorts of extenuating circumstances that you really just can't worry about. Unless you're also proposing we check plans against building permits and homeowners association contracts before answering as well?

  • We check things against local codes all the time (at least I do). For example see this answer. Unsafe answers can be dangerous, and a persons life is worth more than 10 rep. – Tester101 Sep 1 '11 at 17:07
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    I wasn't thinking so much about building codes and safety regulations as tax/zoning/covenant restrictions. If you're telling someone who wants to install unprotected electrical sockets in their pool "no, it's unsafe", that's one thing; if you're asking them, "do you have a permit for that pool?" that's quite different. – Shog9 Sep 1 '11 at 17:22
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Landlord/Tenant issues are actually a very broad subject area which, speaking as a landlord myself, have different and specific answers that vary depending on the region one lives in.

If a question asked by a tenant is one that doesn't fall under the scope of actual repair work, I'd suggest we encourage them to (warning: egregious promotion of potential new site I've proposed) support the formation of Landlords & Tenants Stack Exchange - and anyone here who's a landlord or a tenant should probably support this new site too. ;)

Seriously - this is some potentially very serious stuff - tenants can get into a lot of grief if they get overeager doing repairs without permission, and bad advice like "don't pay your rent unless the landlord fixes it" can get them evicted with a judgment...

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