We’ve written several blogs regarding deductions from a tenant’s security deposit at the end of the lease term. Landlords also often ask about charging tenants for maintenance needed during the term of the lease that seem to have been caused by tenant actions.
Sometimes it’s easy to determine when the tenant should be charged for a service call or repair. For example:
- If the toilet is clogged and the plumber pulls out Legos or a toy soldier, the tenant will be charged for the service call. The tenant will also be charged for any damages a related overflow caused to the ceiling below.
- If a disposal is not working and the plumber finds aquarium rocks or broken glass inside the unit, the tenant will be charged for the repair or replacement of the disposal.
- If a tenant backs into a garage door, that tenant will be charged for the repair to the door.
For other damages, it may not be as easy to determine whether the tenant is at fault and should be charged. If a bathroom floor tile is broken, is it due to the tenant dropping something on the tile or because the surface below is not stable enough? If there is a sewage back up is it due to the tenant flushing large items or due to tree roots growing into the main drain?
Whenever we dispatch a vendor or technician to address a maintenance issue, we always ask whether the issue was caused due to tenant abuse or neglect. We rely on the expertise and professional opinion of the vendor who is diagnosing and repairing the problem to also determine whether tenant actions (or lack of actions) directly caused the problem. If the vendor is confident that the problem is not due to normal wear, we’ll ask him to note his findings on the invoice. Charges found to be tenant responsibility will be assessed to the tenant’s ledger.