Can A Landlord Make A Tenant Pay For Repairs? (Find Out Now!)
All homes will require repairs at some point. As the homeowner, it’s your job to address the new issue that has emerged. But what if it’s a bit more complicated than that?
Determining who is responsible for repairs on a rental property has long been a topic of debate between tenants and landlords. One side will claim that the other is responsible while the other will say the exact opposite. If you’re a new landlord or a tenant, the topic could be confusing for you too.
Both landlords and tenants should refer to the lease agreement to find out who’s responsible for specific repairs. In most cases, the landlord can make a tenant pay for repairs under certain conditions. That’s usually allowed if the property was damaged due to the tenant’s negligence or if the repair needed is very minor.
New landlords must know how to manage their properties correctly and that includes knowing when to hold tenants responsible. Explore that matter and other relevant topics by continuing with this article.
Who Is Usually in Charge of the Rental Property?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this topic, let’s first examine the overview of the landlord’s responsibilities. Some assume that being a landlord is a pretty cushy role, but that’s not necessarily the case.
If you’ve decided to take on the role of landlord, know that doing so entails a lot of work. That’s because you are tasked with maintaining the rental property.
Maintenance is a broad term encompassing numerous tasks, but it generally means keeping the rental property up to living standards. Refer to the laws in your area to find out what kind of maintenance work you need to handle.
On top of that, you also have to take care of the administrative matters related to the property. You’ll need to pay the taxes, secure necessary permits, and other tasks like them. Fail to keep up with those and you may not be able to offer that property for rent anymore.
Determining Who Must Pay for the Rental Property Repairs
Unlike with the administrative tasks, figuring out who’s responsible for repairing the rental property is more complicated. Landlords don’t have to answer for everything, but the same goes for the tenants.
Basically, the nature of the repairs required will determine who has to pay for them. Many times, the landlord will have to shoulder the cost themselves, but there are exceptions. Landlords can also require tenants to pay for repairs in some scenarios.
The Importance of the Lease Agreement
Like we noted above, one party is not solely responsible for all rental property repairs. However, it’s not just the nature of the repair needed that will determine who will have to pay for it.
The lease agreement both sides signed will also play a huge role in identifying the responsible party. The aforementioned document will outline who has to pay for what. As the landlord, you must be very clear with the terms of the deal so the tenant cannot escape their responsibilities.
In addition to clearly laying out who’s responsible for what, a lease agreement can also indicate how repairs will be handled. You may not want the tenant to handle major repairs on their own even if they should be responsible for them. If that’s the case, you should note in the agreement that the tenant must contact you before making any repairs.
One more thing, the lease agreement also has to be in compliance with the laws in your area. You cannot just put anything you please in there and expect it to hold up if a disagreement reaches the court.
Which Repairs Are the Tenant’s Responsibilities?
To find out the division of responsibility, let’s first take a look at the repairs tenants must answer for. Some of them are obvious, but others may be a bit surprising to your tenant.
Damage Caused by Pets
Allowing your tenant to bring pets to the rental property is one thing. It’s not the same as giving their pet carte blanche to just run wild. The tenant still has to be responsible for their pet.
Tenants must ensure that their pet does not damage any fixtures. Pets must also be stopped from causing messes that may leave permanent stains. If the pet fails to follow your house rules, then the tenant must answer for them.
Damage from Negligent Actions
Damage done to the rental property brought about by the tenant’s negligence is their responsibility. For instance, the tenant may have failed to report a leak in time thus causing more damage in the process. They have to shoulder the responsibility for that.
Tenants should also keep a close eye on their guests if they’re inviting them over. Any damage caused by their guests will also be their responsibility.
Tenants must also handle any minor repairs that pop up. We’re talking minor in the sense of burnt-out light bulbs or drained batteries here. The tenants will have to do handle those things on their own.
Which Repairs Are the Landlord’s Responsibilities?
In this section, we’ll discuss the repairs that landlords are responsible for. Keep them in mind if you’re thinking about becoming a landlord yourself.
Once something inside the rental property becomes a safety hazard, the landlord usually has to take care of it. There are all kinds of issues that can qualify as safety hazards.
For instance, faulty wiring is considered a safety hazard because it could spark a fire. A broken lock can also present a safety issue, although that’s probably something you’ll discover before renting the property out.
Don’t forget about unwelcome guests barging in and potentially creating a safety issue inside the property. Mice and other pests can carry diseases that pose a threat to your tenants. Mold and mildew can also cause or exacerbate health issues so they must be addressed immediately.
Repairs Necessitated by Wear and Tear
Landlords will also have to answer for repairs made necessary by aging appliances or systems inside the home. Examples of repairs like that include an air conditioner fuse blowing out or perhaps a septic tank needing to be drained. Check on the condition of your property before renting it out so you can catch potential wear and tear issues earlier.
How to Collect the Payment from Your Tenant
Let’s assume that you had to repair the rental property due to damage caused directly by the tenant’s negligence. Now, since you want the repairs done by the professionals you trust, you paid for their services initially. Your plan was to collect the payment from your tenant later on.
So, how do you go about collecting the payment from the tenant now? The process can actually be somewhat complicated.
You first have to describe the necessary repairs and indicate how the tenant caused them. Put all of that down in writing. After that, secure the receipt for the repairs you paid for and prepare a copy of the lease agreement too.
Gather all those documents now and then send them to your tenant. Send them by certified mail so there’s proof that your tenant received them. From there, the ball is in the tenant’s court. They can send you the money for the repairs or maybe they want it to be deducted from their security deposit.
If they don’t respond after you sent the documents, you can take them to court. That will be more troublesome, but it will also get them to pay.
How Can a Landlord Penalize a Tenant Who Doesn’t Pay for Repairs?
Some tenants may refuse to pay for any repairs. It doesn’t matter how much you explain the lease agreement to them. They are just dug in on the position that they will not pay.No landlord wants to be in that kind of situation, but it can happen. As noted above, you can take a tenant to court if they refuse to pay, but that’s not all. You could also start the eviction process and force them to move out.In all likelihood, they are already in violation of the lease agreement if they are refusing to pay. Evicting them should be well within your rights as the landlord.
Can Tenants Force Their Landlords to Pay for Repairs?
We’ve already discussed what landlords can do to force tenants to pay for repairs, but what about for the other side? Can you, as a tenant, force your landlord to pay for repairs that they are responsible for?Getting them to pay up can be difficult, but there are other actions you can take. Some tenants may decide to stop paying the rent until repairs are made. Others will report their landlords to the authorities or even sue them in court.There’s also a method known as repair-and-deduct that some tenants employ. Repair-and-deduct basically means the tenant will handle the repairs themselves and subtract their expenses from their rent. This kind of approach isn’t allowed everywhere though so check if your state allows it first.Before taking any action though, you should refer to your lease agreement and the laws in your area. Check to see if the actions you’re planning are allowed by the law. It’s also a good idea to consult with a lawyer. They can tell you what the best course of action is in your specific situation.
Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.
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