Jan 26 2018



Tags: repairs  maintenance  tenant  landlord  lease agreement 

Is the Tenant Responsible for Repairs?
Who is responsible for repairs to a rented home - tenant or landlord?

If you have been renting your home as a tenant for some time, you most probably have already had to deal with issues, such as repairs and maintenance to your home.

The regular, ongoing maintenance of a property is natural and is to be expected, but very often confusion results between the landlord and tenant, as to who is really responsible for the cost of the maintenance and repairs.

Unfortunately, many landlords often place the burden of the repair work on the shoulders of the tenant, especially in cases when it is not clearly stipulated in their rental lease agreement.

However, since the tenant does not actually own the property that they are renting, they put the onus back on the landlord and rightly so.

So where do you stand as a good paying tenant, when it comes to getting something repaired? Are you really responsible for the repairs and maintenance, even though you do not own the property? Let's have a look at some possible scenarios.

What is the Landlord Responsible for?

It is generally accepted in most countries, that the landlord is responsible for keeping the property in a resonantly fit condition for which it was let and in addition, to keep the property in a good, livable condition for the tenant.

That means that the landlord should be responsible for all major repairs to the property, including the structure, plumbing and electrical wiring of the home.

If you are renting a house with a swimming pool, the landlord is also responsible for the general maintenance of the pool equipment and the pool pump. However, it is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that the pool is kept clean and in a good condition.

Repairing and replacing broken floor boards or other fixtures in the home, as a result of wear and tear is also the responsibility of the landlord, but not if the damage was directly caused by negligence of the tenant or their friends.

What is the Tenant Responsible for?

As mentioned, the tenant is assumed responsible for maintaining and repairing any damage that was caused by themselves, friends, family or pets - whether directly or accidentally.

Tenants should always assume that repairs are their responsibility, if the problem was not caused by general wear and tear.

Additionally, tenants are responsible for maintaining and fixing minor things in the home, for example - the changing of a light bulb, replacing of door handles or washes in a tap. This includes the cleaning, maintaining and upkeep of the garden and swimming pool (unless otherwise stipulated in the lease agreement)

The Thin Gray Line Between the Landlord and Tenant.

This is where the tenant and landlord may end up in a dispute, over who pays for what.

Blocked drains are an example of such a gray area. Naturally, most tenants would request the landlord to attend to this type of problem, but often find that the landlord is unwilling or unresponsive.

In this case, the situation needs to be carefully evaluated as to the cause of the problem. For example, a blocked drain could be caused by some unnatural blockage or by the tenants own hair - in which case would make them liable for the bill.

However, the blockage could also be caused by overgrown roots, leaves or foliage, in which case the landlord is responsible for. Often, this can be resolved by involving a third party, such as a qualified plumber to access the problem and give feedback.

During their stay, the tenant may drill holes in the bedroom and living room walls to hang pictures or mirrors, which is perfectly acceptable. However, at the end of the tenants lease, the landlord may require them to fill the holes or paint the wall.

Most tenants usually do a quick patch and paint job over the areas where the hooks and nails were, however tenants may be surprised to learn that the expectations of the landlord were for them to actually repaint the entire wall, which may result in a dispute.

The Bottom Line

All houses and apartments require regular maintenance and upkeep. Major repairs and maintenance to a property should always the responsibility of the landlord and this should be clearly laid out in the rental lease agreement, which the tenant signs before leasing a property.

The tenant should also be careful when signing a lease agreement that places too much burden on them to handle and pay for maintenance and repair costs.

We advise all tenants to keep a written record when each request for a repair to the landlord was made. Emails are usually preferred over phone calls because then you also have written proof and the dates when such requests were made.

Related Article: Know Your Rights as a Tenant


Blog Comment

I wished I had know about damage to floorboards caused by tenants wet clothes . Property standards officers demand that i pay for the repairs.

Posted By william john Wallace - Canada

Blog Comment

After 18 years of being a good tenant and always on time paying the rent and doing the general wear and tear, the flooring and the roof is down to me to repair. This cannot be true that these jobs fall on the tenant of 18 years. Now I am looking elsewhere to live in these hard times. So unfair that I have to go.

Posted By Lesley Smith - Wolverhampton

Blog Comment

Hi any advise on landlord (outsource) municipal utilities to 3rd party and the rates are sky high. I requested a break down of the municipality account and are still waiting. surcharges are in the 1000 what can i do.

Posted By Charlene - South Africa

Dalena Marketing

Hi there! Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us! There is no need to hire a lawyer, unless you are in a dispute with your landlord, that is not resolvable. Even then, we would first advice a polite chat with your landlord to try and resolve the issue. If you do not want to confront your landlord, you can always call or email him, but do remember to always keep a record and date of each request. As your lessor is a property lawyer, he should already be aware of both the landlord and the tenants rights.

Posted By Dalena Marketing

Blog Comment

Its well laid out thank you . Do I have to get a lawyer to protect myself as the lessor is a property lawyer. Regards E. Gosling.

Posted By E Gosling - South Africa

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