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The Responsibility of Tenants to Cover Repair Costs - What to Know

You might be wondering how tenants could be expected to cover repair costs. After all, you're the landlord, and it is your job to make sure repairs are done and the costs covered by you. While that's true, it is not the whole story. Some cases exempt you from carrying out the activity and even covering the repair cost. There are situations that the tenant should be responsible for carrying out repairs and paying for them.

Here's a guide on how you can determine whether it is the landlord’s or the tenant's responsibility to cover the repair costs. Your property manager is likely aware of these and should be able to uphold the rules.


The Landlord-Tenant Law


Under the landlord-tenant law, landlords are to ensure that the property is safe and clean to live in and that utilities are working. For example, they must ensure that stairways are safe for use and that water is running, that the heaters are working in the winters, and air-conditioning is available during the summers. They also must make sure that the property is structurally sound, and that there are no pests in the accommodation.


The tenant is also obligated by landlord-tenant laws to ensure that the property is habitable. For example, they must make sure trash isn't piling up in their rooms, and that they should ensure they don't clog up the plumbing. What they're exactly responsible for may also be stated in the lease agreement, and failure to follow through that results in damage could place the burden on the tenant's shoulder to cover the repair.


The Obligations of the Tenant


In general, tenants are responsible for the same things a homeowner is responsible for. This can include swapping the batteries inside the smoke detector or replacing the light bulbs when it dies.


While the tenant won't be responsible for other repairs such as a leaky roof and such (which are the landlord's responsibility), they'll need to cover those that are caused by their inaction. For example, if the tenant spills water over appliances, then it'll be their responsibility to have it fixed. Also, any deliberate destructive actions that cause damage to the property will be the tenant's responsibility, such as the plumbing system getting clogged because the tenant tried to flush a whole roll of tissue paper.


In other words, typical homeowner responsibilities apply to tenants, and any damage caused by the tenant's actions will be their problem to address.


Collecting Repair Money from the Tenant


Collecting money from the tenant isn't the easiest thing to do in the world, especially if you, the landlord, is trying to avoid conflict. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.


For example, you can write a notice letter to the tenant specifying the repair that he or she needs to cover and point out that it was the tenant's action that caused the problem. Include a quote on how much the repair might cost. Also, if you've stated the fact that it is the tenant's responsibility to carry out a specific repair job in the lease agreement, specify it in the letter as well.


In Conclusion


Not every repair out there is to be covered by the landlord. While the landlord may undoubtedly have the choice to cover it, it isn't financially logical to do so. Under the landlord-tenant law, you and your tenants have your obligations, and the contract you have agreed on can also serve as grounds for any other repairs either party will have to cover.


If you’re looking for a property management company in New York to manage your property, get in touch with us to see how we can help.