Whether you are a landlord who owns a rental unit or a tenant renting out a home or apartment, it is always good to know all the laws and rules around who is required to pay for what when it comes to the rental property. You may be asking yourself as a tenant “if something goes wrong in the home and it needs to be repaired, do I as the tenant have to pay for it?” – and more importantly : Can landlords make tenants pay repairs?
In this article, we will answer all your questions regarding whether or not a landlord can make a tenant pay for repairs or not. So, be sure to read this entire article if you want to learn everything about who is required to pay for what repairs when it comes to rental properties.
Typically, a landlord is responsible for performing repairs on their rental property, and paying for them. However, in some situations the landlord is not required to do or pay for repairs on the property. That means the responsibility of the repairs falls on the tenant.
Maintenance Obligations Under The ‘Landlord Tenant Law’
When it comes to the Landlord Tenant Law, landlords are required by law to make sure that their property meets livability standards. Meaning that the home that the tenant is renting out is in proper living condition, without any health and safety concerns. The landlord is required to give the tenant access to running water and a proper heating system. The landlord also needs to make sure that their rental property is free from pests and rodents.
Before a tenant moves in they will sign a lease/rental agreement. In the lease, the tenant may agree to additional maintenance on their part. This could mean maintenance like cutting the grass, making sure the gutters are clear from leaves and other obstructions and general maintenance around the home.
These are all things that would be the tenant’s responsibility. If the tenant fails to complete such maintenance on the rental property and something goes wrong as a direct result of their neglect, then the tenant would be liable to pay for any of the necessary maintenance repairs.
So that answers the main question that you may have about whether landlords make tenants pay for repairs and the short answer is, yes. It won’t be applicable in every situation but in certain situations where the tenant is fully responsible then they would indeed be responsible and be required to pay for the repairs.
The Responsibility of The Tenant
When it comes to general and small maintenance that needs to be completed at the property, the tenant is responsible for that. Things such as making sure the grass is always cut, the trash bins are cleared out and things of that nature. Anything that a normal homeowner would be responsible for around their home.
Let’s talk a bit about maintenance that a tenant would not be responsible for. When it comes to general wear and tear on the home, the tenant is not responsible for that. Wear and tear is the full responsibility of the landlord to get all those things repaired so the rental unit remains in a good condition. But like we mentioned earlier, if anything needs to be repaired and the tenant is at fault, then in those situations the tenant would be required to pay for any necessary maintenance repairs.
For example, if the home runs a generator in the event of a power outage and the tenant fails to replenish the oil and the generator stops working as a direct result of their neglect, the landlord can make the tenant pay for the repairs to the generator. In the worst case scenario, the tenant may be required to replace the appliance.
Another example would be if there is a water leak and the tenant fails to report the problem to the landlord in a timely manner. Then either the home’s ceilings or floor gets significant water damage. In that situation, the tenant is at fault and would be held responsible to have the water damage repaired.
One thing to take note of as well is that tenants are held responsible for the actions of their guests. If a tenant has guests over and they cause any damage to the property, then the tenant is responsible for those damages because they have let the guests into the property. For example, if a tenant is having a dinner party and invites a few guests over and they are sitting on the couch having a conversation and one of the quests gets excited and accidentally spills red wine all over the couch. The guest that spilled the red wine will not be directly held liable to get the couch cleaned, but the responsibility does fall on the tenant to get the couch cleaned and repaired back to its original condition.
Why is the tenant responsible for the damage that their guests have caused you may ask? Well, when the tenant moved in they would have signed a lease and the tenant’s name would be on the lease, making them responsible for any damage that happens on their watch. However with that being said, there is no law that states the tenant cannot negotiate with the guest that caused the damage to get their money back. But, that would be a private conversation between the tenant and the guest and in the eyes of the landlord, the tenant would be paying for the damages even if the tenant does in fact get their money back.
Tips for Collecting Payment From A Tenant As a Landlord
Money is a very touchy subject and not everyone enjoys talking about it or having to deal with money issues. That is why when a landlord is requesting money from a tenant due to any damage that was caused that required maintenance repairs, it can cause some problematic conflict between the landlord and the tenant and could lead to some bad blood and heated arguments. That is why as a landlord, when it comes to requesting money, you want to be as professional and as strict as possible. Do not let your tenants walk all over you and ignore your requests for payment. We have compiled a list of some of the ways a landlord can go about getting their money that is needed for repairs that are the fault of the tenant:
Put Everything In Writing
When a landlord makes tenants pay repairs ,they will get the best result when they put everything in writing. People tend to take things a little more seriously when things are put in black and white. When everything that is needed to get done is clearly written out on a piece of paper, the tenant can go through and see exactly what needs to be done and there is no confusion. A verbal agreement can result in a disagreement with no proof of the actual agreement. When the agreement is not in writing, either party can say that they never said such things and flat out ignore the requests or what was previously discussed.
That is why having everything in writing is going to be your best and safest bet when it comes to getting your money for certain maintenance repairs from the tenant. As a landlord, you want to make sure that you provide the tenant with the written document stating what maintenance repairs are going to get done prior to the repairs actually taking place. That way if any negotiating needs to take place, it can take place and then the tenant can confirm with the landlord about the maintenance repairs that will take place that the tenant is responsible for paying for.
Serve All Receipts To The Tenant
In the event of a situation where a landlord makes a tenant pay for repairs there will be materials and supplies that will need to be purchased in order for the repairs to get done. As a landlord you want to make sure that you keep all the receipts from the material of the repairs and then serve those receipts to the tenant as proof that materials and supplies were purchased for the repairs and the tenant is held responsible to pay for these materials along with any labor costs for the maintenance repairs. This just protects the landlords against any conflict and the receipts serve as solid proof of purchase that needs to be paid for by the tenant.
Include a Copy of The Lease
In the tenant’s lease/rental agreement it will state that they will be held liable for repairs in some situations. Sometimes, a tenant will conveniently forget about this when it comes time to pay for the repairs. Serving the tenant with a copy of the lease/rental agreement helps the landlord out in the long term and serves as a friendly reminder to the tenant that in the lease it clearly states they are required to pay for the repairs due to any neglect or damage on their part.
Deduct the Costs From Tenant’s Security Deposit
Security deposits are put in place for a reason.If a landlord finds themselves in a situation where the tenant does not want to comply and pay for the necessary maintenance repairs, then the landlord is allowed to deduct the cost of the repairs from the tenant’s security deposit, provided that the security deposit is sufficient enough to cover all the costs of the maintenance repairs.
Taking The Tenant to Small Claims Court
We must emphasize that taking the tenant to small claims court should be done as a last resort to try and get the money and cover the costs of the repairs. Taking anyone to small claims court usually means a lot of time back and forth to court by both parties which is frustrating, time-consuming and can be costly.
That is why before you decide to take a tenant to small claims court, you want to make sure that you have exhausted all your other options first. If you can do that with some good negotiating skills then oftentimes a landlord is able to get the money out of the tenant without too much headache and frustration.
As you can see from all the information that we have outlined in this article, in some situations, a landlord can make tenants pay repairs on their rental unit. One thing you may have picked up on is that when a tenant is required to pay for repairs, usually it is a direct result of neglect from the tenant or a direct damage caused by the tenant. For everything else the landlord is required to pay and make sure that their rental property is in a good living condition, free from any health and safety concerns.
We hope we covered all of your questions in this article, but if for any reason you still remain unclear on anything then feel free to get in touch with us. With many years of experience we know what it takes to succeed in this industry and we would be more than happy to help you out and answer any and all of your questions or concerns.