Tenants – You Break It, You Pay to Fix It!
When it comes to maintenance & repairs, tenants should understand their responsibilities when leasing a home are no different than when leasing a car.
Last week we received a call from a tenant regarding a broken screen door.
We sent a maintenance person to check it out and they reported back that it appeared the door had not been shut properly, causing the wind to catch it, flinging it open violently and bending the hinges.
We contacted the tenant about this and they confirmed that’s what happened and asked when we were going to fix the screen door. That’s when the “fun” started.
The tenant made it clear that they expected the property owner to cover the cost of the repair. When we pointed out that they were responsible for damages per their lease, they insisted that they weren’t. In fact, they took the position that all they had to do was keep the home clean and the property owner was responsible for everything else as they were just leasing/renting the home!
Hopefully, there are a lot of prospective tenants reading this article. Please keep reading and forward this article to your friends that may also be tenants.
So, we have a tenant that is insisting they are not responsible for repairing a screen door damaged by the wind due to their negligence in closing it properly. Well, we also knew that this tenant had a leased car. So, we asked the tenant who would be responsible for fixing damages to their leased car? Damages like a cracked windshield from rock kicked up by a truck? A ding or scratch caused by another car’s door in a parking lot?
There are numerous damages that can happen to a car and if you lease it you are responsible for those damages. Not the car dealer or the manufacturer. They only warranty part failures.
Of course our tenant didn’t want to see it that way. They threatened to call the city, contact their attorney, report us to the Better Business Bureau and call the local TV stations. We’re not sure what they did, but they finally, begrudgingly agreed to pay for the damage.
Besides tenants being responsible for obvious damages, there’s one other important point tenants should understand about leasing a home. You may also be responsible for any damages caused by your lack of maintenance or negligence.
Going back to the leased car comparison – who’s responsible for engine damage caused by driving the car with the check engine warning light on? Obviously, the person leasing the car as they intentionally ignored the warning light, causing a minor repair to become a major repair.
The same responsibility applies when leasing a home. A tenant failing to alert their landlord to a plumbing leak, roof leak, electrical short or some other type of “warning light” – assumes the liability for ignoring the minor problem and becomes responsible for the major damages resulting.
So tenants – please understand that you do have some responsibility & liability for maintenance when leasing a home.