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Plumbing Maintenance and Repair in Your Rental Property: Who’s Responsible for What?

Plumbing repairs and maintenance are inescapable realities of living in a modern home. From time to time, the plumbing systems in your home will throw up problems that need to be dealt with. How quickly issues are solved determines the overall cost of maintaining the plumbing and the quality of life of those who live in the home.

In owner-occupied homes –where the occupant is also the owner – this is not a big problem. Since the homeowner is in direct contact with the plumbing, they can quickly detect and fix problems. Moreover, if the owner fails to solve their plumbing issues, they and their family will suffer the consequences.

This is different when dealing with a rental property. A rental home is occupied by a tenant but owned by a landlord who is often not in direct contact with the house. The person using the home’s plumbing does not own the home. When problems happen with the plumbing system in a rental home, who should be responsible for solving them?

Rent Appeal advises this is a question that landlords and tenants ought to answer at the start of the landlord-tenant relationship. Ideally, the lease agreement should contain guidelines for dealing with this problem. But even if this still needs to be done, the rental laws in your state should outline the rights, roles, and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant.

What does the law say about who should be responsible for plumbing maintenance and repair in a rental home?

Landlord responsibilities for plumbing maintenance

Landlord responsibilities for plumbing maintenance

As the property owner, the primary duty to maintain the home’s plumbing belongs to the landlord. If there were no tenants in the rental, the landlord would still want the plumbing system in their property to be in good condition. Based on this, the landlord is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the plumbing systems.

Also, before a tenant moves into the home, the landlord must ensure that the home’s plumbing is adequate and functional. This is based on the unstated assurance a landlord gives the tenant. This guarantees that the landlord has done everything to ensure the rental home is habitable for the tenant.

However, the landlord’s responsibility does not end after the tenant has moved into the rental property. The owner still has the responsibility to maintain their rental property. The landlord is expected to take care of ongoing plumbing maintenance and attend to plumbing emergencies. What qualifies as ongoing plumbing maintenance or a plumbing emergency?

Ongoing plumbing maintenance is those steps required to keep the plumbing working. It solves issues of normal wear and tear and problems caused by properly using the plumbing. As long as a plumbing issue is caused by aging or the proper use, it is normal wear and tear. The landlord is responsible for such problems.

Landlords are also responsible for fixing plumbing emergencies. A plumbing emergency is any plumbing problem that threatens the home’s habitability. Landlords are expected to take immediate action to solve these problems without first asking about the cause. After the emergency is solved, responsibility for the problem can be assigned.

Tenant responsible for plumbing maintenance

Tenant responsible for plumbing maintenance

The tenant’s responsibility for the plumbing system in a rented home is on three levels. First, the tenant has a responsibility to protect the landlord’s property. Tenants are to use the home’s plumbing responsibly. This includes taking steps to prevent problems with the plumbing and not being the cause of those problems.

Second, as the person who uses the home’s plumbing and the party in direct contact with the system, the tenant is expected to report all issues with the plumbing to the landlord. When a tenant detects a problem with the plumbing but fails to report it to the property owner, that tenant will be partly responsible for solving it.

Lastly, tenants are responsible for all damage that does not result from normal wear and tear. If a plumbing problem is caused by a tenant’s carelessness or misuse of the plumbing, the tenant will bear the cost of fixing the problem. All plumbing issues not caused by normal wear and tear are the tenant’s responsibility.

How landlords and tenants can avoid disputes

How landlords and tenants can avoid disputes

To avoid conflicts over plumbing maintenance in a rental home, landlords and tenants can do the following:

  • Conduct a thorough inspection of the plumbing before a tenant moves in.
  • Do a sit-down to discuss the lease terms as far as the home’s plumbing is concerned.
  • Landlords should educate their tenants on properly using the home’s plumbing.
  • The landlord should do scheduled plumbing inspections and maintenance.

Suppose this article has not answered any questions about rental property plumbing repair and maintenance. In that case, it is recommended that you consult your state’s laws or a professional to help you solve the issues.

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