My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Virginia
I have a question regarding what I can reasonably ask my landlord to do regarding gaps on our 2nd floor balcony decking.
My wife has been living in our apartment for one year, and I have just moved to join her from the UK. For the previous year my wife was working and talking to me online and had no time or use for the balcony (the apartment was furnished pretty basic).
Since I moved we both agreed that we should buy nice patio furniture, a bird bath, and a bird feeder (attached to window) so we could enjoy our uninterrupted view of our countryside, and balcony. We also figured since we had brought my 2 pets (dog and cockatiel), that we should say hello to the neighbors and ask them to let us know if any issues arose with the pets or any other issues regarding noise etc, and that if they needed help that they were more than welcome to knock on our door since I worked from home and would be around.
We spoke to our neighbor below us (elderly man, on his own), and we mentioned about the bird feeder and if birds were dropping seeds then to let us know and we would fix it ASAP. He said he didn't mind, that he actually liked seeing the birds and was not an area of the patio he used. We left him feeling that it had went well and we'd have a good neighbor.
Yesterday my wife received a call from our landlord's office (they own and run the complex), stating that they had received a complaint from our downstairs neighbor regarding the bird feeder, and that he was dragging it into his apartment after being outside. They were really nice in informing is and not angry at all. My wife said that she was sorry, and that we would rectify it now by removing the feeder and cleaning up any mess if there was any. My wife also went downstairs with the aim of apologizing and telling him we would fix it and that we would even clean up any mess on his balcony if he so wished. He now doesn't answer his door- to both of us.
We are both surprised and, in a way, upset since we had went out of our way to be neighborly and offer help whenever he needed it. We couldn't understand why he went straight to management without informing us.
We don't want to have any arguments or fights, we are both together after spending our first year of marriage apart and want to settle in well. We are prepared to compromise on any potential problems. However, our patio balcony has gaps between the decking boards of around 1 inch. It means literally anything could fall between the gaps and I can foresee this man complaining about anything falling down now. It makes my wife reluctant to use the balcony at all which I feel is unfair since we are paying for its use and he sits on his balcony quite a lot.
We are planning on going to the office tomorrow to speak to our maintenance team to see what can be done. I don't know much of the law here in Virginia, but surely there is some maintenance that the landlord could undertake to close the gaps/prevent leakages? I have looked at options to cover the entire patio, but they are either too expensive, won't prevent leakages anyway, or be taken as an alteration as clarified in the lease and violate our renter's agreement. Is there anything that we could use (in terms of law) to get our management to rectify the decking situation?
Many thanks, and apologies for the length. I just wanted people to get clarity about why we are asking.