Can Your Landlord Charge You For Plumbing Repairs?

After you’ve moved into a new rental, it’s not uncommon to deal with certain plumbing issues such as a leaky faucet, clogged sink, or overflowing toilet. If you encounter any of these problems, your first instinct would most likely be to contact your landlord. During the call, however, your landlord tells you that you should be in charge of paying for the plumbing repairs, and not them. So, who’s wrong and who’s right?

Figuring out who’s responsible for paying for plumbing repairs can be a tricky situation, especially if living in a rental is a brand new experience for you. While the answer may not always be a clear one, don’t fret. The below will provide you a clearer picture of when it’s your landlord’s responsibility to be paying for the plumbing spares and repairs, and when it’s yours. 

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When your landlord pays  

Before you move into your apartment, your landlord has to inspect the area and ensure that it’s habitable. They’ll have to check the cleanliness of the space, that the plumbing is in working order, and that there isn’t any mold around the home. If the inspection is done correctly, there shouldn’t be any issues with the home. However, on the rare occasion that your landlord misses out on something and it turns out to be an issue after you’ve moved in, they should be held responsible for the repairs.

If the issue takes place after you’ve already moved in, it’s highly dependent on the circumstance. While it’s normal to assume that your landlord should take the majority of the responsibility, they’re not in charge of everything. Yes, they should cover repairs such as a leak in your shower or an urgent matter like flooding, however, if it’s just a drip, your landlord is not obligated to take care of the repairs unless your lease explicitly says so. 

On the other hand, what if the plumbing issue is something serious that results in damage or, even worse, injury? Well, to be liable and responsible for personal injury, the landlord must have been negligent in maintaining the property or taking steps to, which, in turn, caused the tenant’s injury. The tenant must also be genuinely hurt.

When you pay  

If you, a roommate, or a guest is the reason why there are plumbing issues, then you’re in charge of paying for the repairs. For example, if you’re constantly shoving large pieces of food down your waste disposal and it results in a burst pipe, the cost will be something you’d have to shoulder.

If you end up having to deal with a plumbing problem, it’s best to call a qualified plumber to help you with the job. Not only will they efficiently solve your problem, but they’ll also ensure that your plumbing supply system is in working order – which will save you both money and time in the long run. 

Still, confused? 

If you’re still not sure who should be paying, refer to your lease, or state laws or local laws to figure out who should be in charge of taking care of the repairs. Your lease should be your first go to as it’ll explicitly state what your rights and responsibilities are. If you and your landlord end up getting into a dispute over the matter, there are a few ways to handle the situation. Unfortunately this isn’t uncommon as most landlords are on a tight budget and repairs eat into their mortgage repayments, which according to statistics is the highest share of the total US household debt at $9.6 trillion.

Here’s what to do if you get into a dispute:

  • Involve an independent third party to mediate
  • Report the issue to your city’s inspection office
  • Do the necessary paperwork, and take your landlord to court
  • Take care of the repairs on your own and subtract it from your rent
  • Continue to put up with the matter or decide to move out 

All landlords should ensure that the property lease lays out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenants. You can find a good customizable lease or tenancy agreement online which will include all the basics, then it is up to you if you want to go further and spell out specific tenant or landlord responsibilities so that plumbing and maintenance issues are quickly resolved. 

What next? 

In an ideal situation, it’s always best if you can amicably resolve any plumbing repair issues with your landlord. Having a harmonious relationship and keeping the channels of communication open will allow for minimal misunderstandings in the long run. 

On the other hand, if you’ve consistently been coping with a plethora of plumbing problems where you live, and your landlord has failed to respond appropriately, it might be time to consider moving out to a different apartment. The place you’re staying at should feel comfortable and homely, and the last thing you need is to be frustrated or stressed out about the plumbing problems in your rental space.