Tenant Caused Maintenance in Rental Property

Having rental property or investment property means, sooner or later, you will have to deal with tenant caused maintenance. In other words, your tenant will eventually do something that requires you to pay to replace or repair something in the homes.


  • Frozen pipes caused by the tenant leaving the garden hose hooked to the outside spigot in freezing weather.
  • Clogged drains caused by hair. Broken windows due to a good overhand throw.
  • Patching and painting the walls from holes found at move out.
  • The list goes on and on. The question in everyone’s mind is…who is going to pay for it.

Generally, if the maintenance is a direct result of something the tenant did or did not do the tenant would be responsible for charges. In order to charge the tenant you will need to have the work done, most likely pay for it, and provide an itemized receipt to the tenant.

Can you require the tenant to pay the bill immediately? Yes, however, if asked, it is in your best interest to make a payment arrangement with the tenant. Happy people are much easier to work with in the long run.

There are some gray areas when it comes down to who actually caused the damage and who should be financially responsible. Can you, without a doubt, prove that the tenant is actually at fault? The invoice from your maintenance technician must clearly state what caused the issue. Also, it is imperative that your lease allows for you to hold the tenant financially responsible for tenant caused maintenance.

It is also important to point out that you cannot charge a tenant for normal wear and tear. If the walls have not been painted in the last 6 years you will need to itemize the invoice. The tenant’s would only be liable for patching the holes they created as the walls probably needed painting before they moved in. This also holds true when replacing carpet. It does not matter if the bleach stain was not there before they moved in unless the carpet was brand new. You have to depreciate out the age of the carpet and can only charge the tenant for a portion of the replacement.

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