How to Make Tenants Pay for Repairs


How to Make Tenants Pay for Repairs

One of the critical duties of a landlord is keeping your rental property in tip-top shape.

It’s also your job to make sure you’ve set aside enough to cover repairs and maintenance for your rentals.

But it’s NOT your job to pay for every single thing – like when a tenant breaks a window, for example.

So today, let’s take a look at the types of repairs that tenants should pay for, and how to enforce this as a landlord.

Table of Contents

  1. When Tenants Are on the Hook for Damage
    1. Tenant or Guest Mishaps
    2. Failure to Report Problems
    3. Property Misuse
    4. Maintaining Safety Measures
    5. Repair and Deduct Laws
  2. Methods for Payment Landlords Can Utilize
    1. Deducting from the Security Deposit
    2. Direct Billing
    3. Renter’s Insurance
    4. Small Claims Court

Don’t Be Taken Advantage Of, Make Tenants Responsible for their Actions

When Tenants Are on the Hook for Damage

As landlords, you’re not always the one who has to foot the bill for repairs. But when do charge your tenants for damages they’ve caused, and that’s just normal ‘wear and tear’?

Here are some examples of when you can make your tenants pay for repairs:

Tenant or Guest Mishaps

While wear and tear are par for the course in rental properties, there are times when a tenant’s neglect can accelerate the aging process of your appliances or fixtures.

Whether it’s an accidental scratch on the floor or a guest’s mishap leading to a broken toilet or clogged drain, the responsibility for repairs falls squarely on the tenant in cases like these.

Failure to Report Problems

According to landlord-tenant laws, renters must promptly inform you of any issues that arise in the property.

Whether it’s a mold infestation lurking in the basement or a malfunctioning water heater, timely reporting is crucial. Ignoring these problems can lead to escalating damage, such as mold spreading throughout the walls or a complete water heater breakdown.

In such cases, tenants may find themselves liable for the resulting repairs. However, this doesn’t mean you should skip regular inspections.

Property Misuse

As a landlord, implementing a no-pets or no-smoking policy is within your rights. Tenants who sign a lease agree to abide by these rules, and failure to do so can result in eviction and financial responsibility for any resulting damages.

This misuse can extend beyond lease infractions, leading to physical damage like stained walls and hard-to-remove odors that can be costly to rectify. Those expenses are also something that tenants should be liable for if they arise from their misuse of the property.

Maintaining Safety Equipment

Upon move-in, ensuring that safety features meet current standards is the landlord’s duty. However, the ongoing maintenance of these features, like replacing smoke detector batteries or keeping security systems operational, falls to the tenants.

But knowing your rights as a landlord and enforcing those rights are two different stories.

So if your tenants cause damages like these, but aren’t willing to cover the cost of repairs, what should you do?

How to Get Tenants to Cover Repair Costs

You can ask your tenants to foot the repair bills in various ways. From simply asking for cash directly to going through the courts, here are the most common ways to get tenants to fulfill their responsibilities:

Deducting from the Security Deposit

Should a tenant cause damage or fail to pay a necessary repair bill, you can deduct the expenses from their security deposit upon Move-Out.

Keeping thorough records and documentation of repairs is essential in case of a dispute, however, and if you take this route, it means you’ll only get reimbursed after the lease period is over.

Direct Billing

Suppose the cost of repairs exceeds the security deposit, or you want to charge them for repairs on an as-needed basis. In such cases, you can directly bill the tenant for the expenses incurred – but make sure to document all the invoices and payments from the tenant (avoid cash, if possible, as it’s harder to track).

Renter’s Insurance

Another avenue for covering repair costs is through renter’s insurance. If your tenants have adequate coverage, their insurance company may cover the costs of damages to the property. This can be particularly beneficial if there’s significant damage, such as flooding.

You can require tenants to take out renter’s insurance in your lease agreement.

Small Claims Court

When all else fails and tenants still refuse to take responsibility for damages, landlords can pursue legal action through small claims court. While this route may require hiring legal counsel, it can result in compensation for repair costs and any associated legal bills.

This should be your last resort when all other methods have been exhausted.

Rental Repairs Done Right

In the end, it’s about setting the right expectations, communicating effectively, and documenting everything.

If you establish clearly in your lease the importance of timely issue reporting, property use rules, and the tenant’s responsibilities, like general upkeep and having renter’s insurance, you’ll be setting yourself up for success from the get-go.

That translates into fewer disputes, lower repair costs, and more satisfied tenants.

Tired of chasing tenants for every small repair? Contact us today, and let our team of property management pros do it for you.

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