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When is a Tenant Responsible for Repairs?

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The relationship between a landlord and a tenant is a tenuous one. When both parties do what is required of them, without trying to evade the costly or the arduous obligations, the whole experience is a joy.  It is not uncommon for people to come to the conclusion that someone else should fix the mess they’ve made and that there is a good reason why they are not responsible. This line of thinking is common for both landlords and tenants, which is why their relationship can be quite difficult. So, to help banish some doubts, we are going to go over when a tenant is responsible for repairs. And, if they are, how they should go about them.

Situations where a tenant responsible for repairs

To answer one of the most frequent questions asked by tenants, if a tenant has caused damage in the apartment, they are responsible for repairing it. Anything else is the landlord’s responsibility. The important distinction to make here is between repairs and maintenance. Maintenance is solely the landlord’s responsibility. It entails fixing things that break simply over time. Pipe leaks, electricity issues, insulation troubles… All of them are usually not due to the tenant’s negligence, but due to the passing of time. So, if something like this happens, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix them (or maintain them, if you would).

On the other hand, if a tenant breaks something, it requires repair. And that repair is the responsibility of the person who caused the damage. In this case, the tenant. So, if you, as a tenant, break the faucet in your kitchen, it will be up to you to either repair it or fix it. The same goes for furniture, windows, floors, walls, appliances… Any issue that you (as a tenant) have caused, even by accident, is up to you to repair.

What happens if a tenant doesn't deal with repairs before moving out

Now, what happens if there is something to fix, but the tenant decides to move out before the landlord finds out. Well, that is what the security deposit was for. After moving out, the landlord has the right to withhold a part or the whole of the security deposit if it is necessary to fix damages caused by the tenant. This doesn’t go into the normal wear and tear. It goes under maintenance. Once the tenant leaves the apartment, the landlord has 30 days to notify the tenant about the deductions and the remaining balance. If there are any damages, the landlord needs to provide a list that clearly details them. He also needs to provide a written estimate of the repairs and any bills that go along with it.

When things don't work out

Unfortunately, the security deposit is sometimes not enough to cover the cost of repairs. If this happens, you (as a landlord) might have to seek legal help and sue your former tenant for the cost of repairs. In case this happens while the tenant is still living in your apartment, you can have a legal ground to evict them. But, we do advise you to do so carefully. Always consult with a lawyer before taking any significant measures, as dealing with them improperly can yield bad results.

Just because a tenant responsible for repairs, doesn’t mean that they will deal with them. If this happens, do yourself a favor and work with a lawyer.

How to go about repairs as a tenant

Let us now say that you are a tenant responsible for repairs and that you want to repair the damage you’ve caused. How should you go about it? Should you simply jump into repairs without any prior preparation? Of course not. Remember, just because you’ve repaired something, doesn’t mean that the landlord won’t bother you about it down the road. A difficult landlord might claim that the repairs weren’t enough and that you still owe them money that they should take out of the security deposit. Well, to avoid situations like this from happening, you need to take certain actions.

Taking photos

Ideally, you should take photos right after moving in with the help of reliable movers such as zippyshelldmv.com. We suggest that you take photos before you start repairs. These photos should clearly show the current state of the damage and its extent. They will serve as proof of what you are fixing and how big the problem was. Once you are done repairing, you should also take photos of the finished repairs.

Notifying landlord

If you are a tenant responsible for repairs, you should notify your landlord before you attempt to do so. Now, the true necessity of this depends on the type of repairs you are dealing with. If it is a major repair, you should definitely notify your landlord and tell them what is going on. In the long run, it is always a good idea to be forthcoming and honest. Your landlord might even have a home warranty that covers your damage.

For minor repairs, you can simply notify your landlord the repairs are done. Things like broken faucets or cracked windows are usually not expensive or difficult to repair. But, you definitely shouldn’t hope that the landlord won’t notice your repairs. Notifying your landlord is required of you by law.

Finding the right professional

The professional that your landlord recommends should be your best choice in having a cost-effective repair. But, if you want to stay on the safe side, you should do a bit more in order to find the best person for the job. We suggest talking to your neighbors and seeing if they have recommendations. Also, you can go online and look for reviews of professionals that operate in your area. Overall, you want someone reliable dealing with home repairs. If you deem it possible, you can attempt DIY repairs. But, if something goes wrong with your repair work or your landlord isn’t satisfied with the result, you will have trouble proving that the repairs you did were sufficient.