The landlord-tenant relationship can get heated. All renters might encounter a problem.
The biggest problem you may face as a renter is how to determine if you are responsible for the repairs or whether it is your landlord’s responsibility. We’ve collected the most frequent issues that can arise from your rental property. Who is responsible for paying and organizing repairs?
Rule of thumb: Repairs and Payments
A landlord and tenant are jointly responsible for maintaining the property. In general, the tenant is responsible if damage to the property is caused by them. If you constantly throw in Q-Tips (or cotton balls) into the toilet, your landlord may request that you pay for plumbing repairs.
Consider whether the problem is minor in nature or requires significant interference. Even if it’s a result wear and tear, you can repair it in 5 minutes. This may be quicker than asking your landlord for maintenance.
But if it is a significant problem, you should notify your property management even if they know that you are responsible for repairs. An example would be an electric range that is not working properly. Even if your landlord agrees that the electric range is broken and you are ready to buy a replacement, it is advisable to first consult them before making a purchase at the store.
This may seem like the easiest solution and is a way to be a responsible tenant, but it could prove disastrous later. They may be surprised to find out that the landlord has not fixed something. It might even become a reason to dispute your decision to move out.
You can turn to your rental agreement
Before anything happens, it’s important to know the contents of your lease agreement. Is there anything that mentions maintenance and repairs? Or is it the most concise piece of paper you have ever signed, but it doesn’t cover anything?
While we do not recommend you memorizing every part of the lease, you should understand what is permitted and prohibited. So if your kitchen sink suddenly bursts, you can quickly identify if it is best to contact your landlord or a professional plumber.
Are you curious about what maintenance and repair terms are expected in a lease contract?
The landlord might require you to inform them about any maintenance and repair work that is being done in your apartment. It falls under the umbrella of unauthorized repairs if you do not inform your landlord about any large projects. Unauthorized repairs can also lead to eviction according to many states’ landlord-tenant laws.
Additionally, the clause may state that the landlord must fix any major fixtures or items like roofs, HVAC systems, electric and plumbing.
Maintenance fall under the Landlords’ Responsibility
According to the landlord-tenant law, landlords must ensure that the rental property is habitable. This concept is subject to interpretation by each state. However, some basic principles can be established.
Renters should be aware of basic safety and health requirements before moving in to their rental property. This includes the property’s structural elements (e.g., roof and walls, or foundation) as well working electrical, plumber, and heating systems. A property manager or landlord should be responsible for any items that are damaged or start to malfunction because of wear and tears or simply due to old age. Usually, landlords take care of:
- Structural repair (repairing cracks or foundations, fixing roof issues and replacing floor joints);
- Plumbing problems
- Heat issues
- Electrical problems
- Pest or rodent infestation.
It is common for landlords to repair or replace appliances in the rental that were not there when the tenant moved-in, although it isn’t required in state laws. Therefore, it is a good idea to check your lease and talk with the landlord about the issue.
How can the tenant be responsible for repairs?
The same as landlords, tenants are also responsible for certain duties. Every state has its own laws that stipulate that renters are required to maintain the property in a clean condition. The Washington State Tenant’s Duty is shown here
This means that a landlord could order the tenant to pay repairs if they fail to comply with this provision. These are just a few examples where the tenant would have had to pay for repairs.
- Burns on the carpet and floor
- Stained or burnt countertops
- Broken window;
- Inadequate cleaning by guests
- Pets can cause harm.
Accidents can happen. The landlord can deduct repair costs from the tenant’s security bond, but it is better for them to be addressed immediately rather than waiting until later.