RPXLPX - hi, and you're right on all counts. First off, my rental agreement states the landlord is responsible for repairs to the house and appliances. It seems to be a standard clause as I've seen similar wording in nearly all 10 of my leases over the last 28+ years of renting all over the world. (The military's moved me around a bit in that time...)
Second, my landlord told me when I first moved in that should anything break and I needed to get it fixed, to go ahead and do so and send him the bill. (I'd been through two interviews with he and his wife prior to them accepting my rental application. I know they checked with my two most recent landlords. I also discussed my DIY abilities with them.) He stated it was hard for him to locate repairmen in my local area since he lives over 150 miles away.
Third, I'd already demonstrated good faith with him in repairing his whirlpool bathtub and outdoor Jacuzzi, keeping him informed and only passing on costs over $100. (The only thing he's insisted on reimbursing me for was a special-order Jacuzzi cover which ran $275. I offered to split the cost and he refused very nicely. The repairs to the bathtub and Jacuzzi ran me around $125, counting long-distance phone calls to parts warehouses and original manufacturers. He offered to pay those and I declined because I learned quite a bit from doing the repairs.)
You're right, though - renters need to notify their landlords immediately when they encounter problems, and let the landlords determine the best course of action to take. Sometimes, they have contacts who can do the repairs/get parts at prices well below the going rates. In my case, if what I'm doing doesn't fix the microwave, I'll let the landlord know when it died, the circumstances around it (probable power line transients during a recent snowstorm), what I've done to fix it, and then we'll go from there. I'm proud to say I've never left a rental property in the same or worse shape than when I've moved in - I've always made some improvements that have pleased the landlords. Have a great day! Jim D/Heathsville, VA