Tip #47

Don’t Charge a Maintenance Request Fee or Repair Deductible

Written on February 19, 2015 by

service-call-feesMany landlords and property managers charge a fee every time a tenant submits a maintenance request or a repair is performed.

Personally, I think this is a horrible practice, one that will inevitably make your tenants resent you and lead to real problems going unreported. Ultimately, your overall maintenance costs will be much higher and your tenant turnover more frequent.

In short, if you charge a maintenance request fee or repair deductible, you will regret it.

What’s a Maintenance Request Fee?

It’s a fee to the tenants every time they submit a maintenance request that requires the landlord to visit the property, repair something, or spend money.

In plain english, it’s the landlord saying: “If I have to get involved, then you’re going to pay for it.”

The fee is typically defined and agreed to in the lease, I’ve seen it range from $25-$75 per maintenance request.

What’s a Maintenance Deductible?

Many creative landlords know that a maintenance request fee will scare away many renters, so they cloak it as a maintenance deductible. This deductible is usually a flat rate or percentage of the total cost of the repair.

It’s the same nasty service fee, just packaged differently.

During my first two years as a landlord, I had a $25 maintenance deducible in my lease. It stated that the tenant is responsible for the first $25 of every repair, and 100% of the repair if the cost was less than $25.

While $25 doesn’t sound like much, the amount is irrelevant if the tenant shouldn’t be responsible for the repair at all. Many landlords validate this provision by comparing it to an insurance deductible.

Why Are These Fees Attractive to Landlords?

The primary reasons why landlords implement such fees is to:

  1. offset the cost of repairs or the existing deductible of their home warranty policy,
  2. force the tenant to have some “skin in the game”, or
  3. motivate the tenants to “only call me when it’s important”.

Many times, a landlord will have a home warranty policy on their rental property, which covers basic repairs like plumbing and appliance failures. Almost all of these policies have a service call fee, which the landlord is responsible for whenever a claim is made.

The fee is typically collected by the technician that shows up to the property. Because payment is required on-site, some landlords try to pass this along to the tenant who will likely be home to greet the technician.

It sounds like a good idea, but it will certainly backfire on you – I promise. 

Why It’s a (Really) Bad Idea

landlord-text-messageMaintenance calls (and texts)are a good thing! I know it doesn’t feel like it when you get the news that your bathtub is leaking, but you need to know about it!

Most of the time, your tenants didn’t cause the issue. They are just communicating the situation. By enforcing a maintenance request fee, you are in essence, shooting the messenger.

Your tenants are your eyes and ears at your property, and if you penalize them for making contact with you, they’ll resent it, and just stop communicating all together!

When tenants stop reporting issues to you, small repair issues like a flickering light will turn into large issues, like an electrical fire, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

These Landlords Do Exist…

I know it’s hard to believe, but there are actual landlords who think that a maintenance request fee is productive to their bottom line.

I knew a friend whose refrigerator died two weeks after he moved in. His lease said that he was responsible for the first $200 of any repair, so his landlord bought him a new fridge, and withheld $200 from his deposit.

Not only is this poor customer service, I’m pretty sure it would be considered unfair and excessive in court. This friend moved-out at the earliest possibility, never reported another maintenance issue again, and considered filing a small claims case.

Here’s a real comment from Sheryl in Illinois.

My response:

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71 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kathy

    What kinds of maintenance should be paid for by the tenant and by the landlord? For example, my tenant called saying the heater was constantly running and wasn’t keeping th condo as warm as she’d like and she was worried about her utility bill. At this time of year the temps were dropping down to the low teens for many weeks straight. I called the warranty company who said the unit was fine, but the filter hadn’t been changed in months. He also suggested I clean the coils with soapy water, which I did. The tenant claims she has changed the filter. I bought several filters and left them with her telling her to be sure to change them out every 45 days, or so. I also replaced the thermostat, all at my cost. The next week she called as the garage door wouldn’t open. Again, I called my warranty company who replaced the garage door motor and it works just fine now. I did not charge her. Is this normally something the landlord is responsible for? Do you have a list for who pays what?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kathy,

      Generally speaking, the landlord is responsible for normal maintenance of the appliances and central systems, and to ensure habitability (working heat, general safety, hot/cold water, weatherproofing).

      The tenant is generally responsible for general cleaning and maintenance, such as lightbulbs and even filters.

      I don’t have an exact list to share, but that’s a really good idea for a blog post. Even so, every situation is different.

      Here are the rules of thumb that I follow:
      – If it was working when the tenant started the lease, then the landlord should fix it.
      – If the tenant created the issue because of negligence or lack of common sense, the landlord should get it fixed, but make the tenant pay for it.
      – Tenant should pay for all plumbing stoppages as long as the condition of the pipes are good (not rough or collapsed).
      – Tenant should pay for pest control after the first 2-4 weeks as long as the unit was pest free when they moved in.
      – Tenant should clean regularly, and is responsible for any damage caused by not cleaning properly.

      • jackie

        Should a landlord charge a tenant for fixing a clogged toilet .. One of the children drop a cap in it and the other child was unaware use the bathroom and flush away. Landlord left me 4 days without any repair done to the unit. She finally called a plumber and they were able to unclogged the toilet. At no point did the landlord make me aware that I would be paying for he cost of the repair. Now 2 1/2 months later she send me a letter charging me for the repairs. My lease was up in Dec. And I made her aware I would be moving. She has been harassing me aost every day. On top of that she gave my number to the potential new tenant and they both been calling. I think she’s only charging me out of spite. Can u give me some info please

  • Tracey

    Should tenants be responsible for pest control (other than bed bugs)? Living where I live mice are a problem and I advise all my tenants to have a trash can with a lid and keep food up high and covered, etc.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tracey,

      It’s really up to you. It all depends on how you write the lease.

      Personally, I tell ALL my tenants (even the ones right out of college) that they are responsible for any pest treatment after the first 2 weeks (assuming it’s pest free during those 2 weeks).

      I also provide them with tips on how to maintain a pest free home – such as taking out the trash regularly, doing dishes daily, cleaning up after oneself, etc. Some of my dirtiest tenant were students. But as soon as they had to pay for a $300 pest service, they started cleaning regularly.

      I find that if I volunteer to pay for pest control in the lease, then they have no motivation to clean. If I start our strict in the lease, I can always choose to pay for the treatment later.

      For example, I have one house that always seems to get a mice in the fall, when the outside temp drops. It’s a townhouse and my neighbors are fairly dirty folks, and I’m pretty sure the mice come from their house. Whenever my tenants report a mouse in that property, I just take care of it, because I know that house has had a recurring problem – even though my lease says the tenant is responsible for it. It’s only fair.

  • No Nonsense Landlord

    There are so many crappy landlords out there is amazes me. If the tenant is responsible for the damage, it is 100% theirs. If it is wear and tear, it is 100% the landlords.

    It really is that simple.

    You want tenants to call with repairs. You want to fix them as soon as possible, so it is not the ‘one more thing’ you have to do on a rental turn.

      • Kal

        how about when the tenant decides to use bleach or some other kind of solution to unclog the drains (bathroom tub) instead of using what’s recommended? hair getting clogged in the pipes would typically be a tenant issue, right? But, trusting the tenant to use an enzyme based product (or something that’s safe for old pipes) might not work out if they buy the cheapest thing (that can damage pipes) that works for them.

        Is that just a cost the landlord has to eat for proper care of drain clogging? that can become cumbersome (and maybe pricey) if they don’t care about proper care for the bathroom drains.

  • Sonny Mooks

    We are sort of considering an “after hours” maintenance fee. Right now, we do not charge the tenants for repairs, and we only do them from 9-5 (monday through friday) and Saturdays from 10 to 3. We’re toying with the idea of having someone to do repairs from 6 to 10 and also on Sundays. We are thinking of charging a $25 or $50 fee for after hours (since it might cost us more if this becomes overtime)….Would this be a bad idea ? The other option is the status quo of the set hours now.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sonny,

      Having an after hours service fee is not unheard of, but what happens if there is a large plumbing leak at 11pm on Friday? Would you not want to send someone out there ASAP, regardless of the time, so that it doesn’t destroy the basement, drywall, and the floors?

      If you fine the tenant for reporting something (and expecting a fix), based on time, then you are only encouraging your tenants to wait until your offer hours. You’re putting them in the weird position of deciding what is important, and what is not. And if you put them in the position of letting the issue cause more property damage, or getting fined $50, they will let the property suffer every day of the week.

      Unavoidably, you’ll cause more property damage by forcing the tenant to weigh a fee vs. severity of the repair. They won’t always choose right, and you can’t always claim negligence since you are relying on them to choose.

      I tend to take the stance that a tenant should use their own good judgement, and call me if their are unsure. I’d rather get a call or text at 11pm, and the be able to make the decision myself. I can always wait until monday to call a repairman, but I’d prefer to make that decision, not them.

      I’ve had hundreds of tenants, and the only few times they’ve called me after hours is when there is a real emergency – such as sparking electrical panel, or a tree that fell on the house. In those cases, I’d want to know, no matter what time it is.

      • Sonny Mooks

        I should have been more specific, I am sorry. I meant for scheduled jobs, not emergencies. We respond to emergencies even now, without any kind of off hour system. I meant for scheduled jobs, run of the mill maintenance. We would be very clear, if you have a leak, call us, ASAP. Our issue is that alot of tenants want to schedule their work orders after hours because of their jobs. They don’t want to miss work, and if our workers have to work after hours, its overtime for them. Hence why we are thinking of charging the tenants to schedule after hours appts.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Sonny

          That makes more sense. If they’d prefer to have a nonessential repair performed during after hours, then I don’t see a problem passing along the extra fee. However, make sure it’s documented in the lease so they can’t argue it.

  • Shannon

    I had question. I am currently a brand new tenant with a Property Management that just charged me a $75 fee stating the maintenance technician said he had to wait. This is my first months invoice and I was floored because not only did the maintenance tech not have to wait one single minute. I had to wait for him to leave and go to home depot because he was unprepared. And to top it off I didn’t even put in a maintenance ticket the PM did! And it was all to change a light bulb the PM thought it wasn’t safe for me to attempt myself. I find it crazy they put in the ticket and are now trying to charge me $75 for a light bulb change. Is this legal? Even if the tech did have to wait (which he didn’t) I didn’t see anything in my lease about this fee, only an $80 if you are a no show and the tech can’t get in the premises. Help me what is your advice. The PM is saying the tech is trustworthy which doesn’t give me the warm fuzzy feeling they will do the right thing.

    • Tracey

      As a Landlord, the lease reigns supreme. If it’s not in your lease, then they cannot charge you unless you were not there to let them in; which doesn’t appear to be the case in your situation. So, you simply need to ask the PM where in the lease you should be charge, and if they cannot find it, then they owe you that money back.

    • Lucas Hall

      I agree with Tracey.

      That’s a rough way to start off on the wrong foot! Shame on them. I hope it gets better for you.

      Could you ask to meet with the maintenance guy in the leasing managers office? Why don’t you confront the technician, and call him out on the lie?

  • Cm

    I have a slumlord! We have had so many issue from the day weaved in that he promised he would fix! A yr and half later still not fixed. Example water seeped through the wall from the furnace and water pouring through a ceiling light in the kitchen from a deck being nailed into the roof for the upstairs apartment. Who is actually the landlord son that’s a whole Nother issue . So I called the landlord and let him know there is mold and water damage and he brings over spray paint which is primer and tells me it’ll take care of it sprays kills all over and all over my stuff and leaves and says that’ll fix the problem . That’s just one or two examples now I told him I’m not paying any more rent until things are fixed and he said I will have a evection notice on my door . I don’t know what to do we have nowhere else to go right now but not only that there’s no lease agreement. He has already been find $1000 for not having this house registered as a rental! Help?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi CM

      Withholding rent is a serious thing. You really need to know what you are doing, and you need to review your state’s laws on the matter. If you don’t withhold it for an issue affecting habitability, then you can get evicted. You’re not allowed to withhold rent for small issues (which is subjective).

      If you’ve already played that card, your best bet is to consult an attorney before you get in over your head.

      BTW, you can look up your state laws here: http://www.landlordology.com/state-laws/

  • Tracey Hebler

    Hi Lucas, I have a question about the maintenance fee. We have been renting from 4ghomerentals for 3 years. We signed a 2 year lease which ended 7/31/14 and just have been doing month to month since. No where in the lease did it mention a maintenance fee and in the past they weren’t charging one. The last two times I’ve called they sent me a bill. The house we rent was built in 1856 and has constant plumbing problems. So my question is if it wasn’t in the least to begin with can they just start charging us and if they can because the lease has expired don’t they have to send something in writing? Also, I don’t feel they have to right to charge me a fee either way unless it was something we caused because this is NOT our property its theirs so why should we pay them to come look at/fix there own property? Is there any type of agency I can contact for help? We’re a family of 6 and its hard to find a place to rent in our price range and big enough so we can really just get up and move.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tracey,

      Generally speaking, they can’t charge fees that aren’t in the lease. However, are you sure they didn’t charge you for the plumbing bill? Often times, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to pay for clogs.

      Whenever a fixed-term lease rolls over to a monthly lease, the original terms get carried over too. So, for all intensive purposes, you’re obligated to the same terms and conditions.

      You could contact your local housing authority. I have listed a lot of them, and other legal aid service providers, in the state law section of LLgy. http://www.landlordology.com/state-laws

      Good luck to you. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Olga

    I am a first time landlord, and I have difficult tenants. I’ve got 2 family home. The downstairs tenants wanted me to replace the bulbs. The agreement says they should maintain the apartment in the same condition it was when they moved in. It was in excellent condition. I took a 10000 loan to fix the place after my former tenants. So, I replaced the bulbs and all the fixtures that came with the bulbs. They refused to pay for the equipment/bulbs. They also withdrew rent for the labor. I also had to drive over 3 hrs one way to fix what I don’t believe I was responsible for. Altogether it cost me over $ 300.00. I was upset, but I did not go to court. What were my options?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Olga,

      In my opinion, your best option would have been to tell your tenants: “your lease says you are responsible for replacing light bulbs and other things like smoke detector batteries. Be an adult and figure it out yourself”.

      But now that you’ve already gone against the lease, and set a precedence that you will do this stuff for them (for free no matter), it’s only going to be harder for you to put for foot down later.

      It sounds like you have a fairly good lease – I would encourage you to try to stick to it better. It’s okay to say “no” to your tenants and encourage them to handle things like adults.

      Here’s are two related articles. I hope they help:
      https://www.landlordology.com/rock-solid-rental-lease/
      https://www.landlordology.com/how-to-grow-amazing-tenants/

  • Queen Bee

    A realtor showed me a property which truly piqued my interest. I initialed on the contract to lease form and when I got home I requested a copy of that form. He never obliged. 3 days later he bought me the actual lease to sign. Then he mentioned a note about tenant will pay for any repair $200 or less including garbage disposal. Mind you I walked away from a previous realtor who told me upfront I would pay repairs cost of $75 every time.
    I mentioned to the current realtor ($200 in question) that he failed to provide this information from the very beginning. He persisted that I would not get my $75 application fee and walked away. I threatened to inform BBB, he returned my money that same evening. Total rip offs in South Florida.

  • Amy

    Some states, like WV, prohibit LLs from charging service fees to conduct repairs under the laws concerning implied warranty of habitability. My landlord has served us with a 10-day notice due to a $35 “service call fee” we won’t pay for a leaking pipe under our sink that we reported. Now while I’m fine with a reasonable fee assessment for other matters, this is a repair that LL is required to perform by law. I’m fighting it; as I don’t know if IL allows for LLs to do this – if she wants to evict a tenant who pays $2,000/mo on time, every month over $35, so be it. Any further problems that fall under this scope will be reported to the building code inspector’s office – not to her. Some LLs are such scumbags, seriously.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amy

      Personally, I completely agree with. But I have no idea what a judge would say in your area. I suggest you talk to a lawyer BEFORE you go to eviction court, so you don’t risk getting an eviction record in the off chance that you are wrong.

  • Ronnie

    My lease indicated clearly tenant is responsible for the $80 trip charge for any repair. Tenant txt me and informed me she set the thermostst at 90 but it only stays at 65. And wanted me to call a service man. I agreed but told her she will be responsible for the $80. She said landlord should be absorb the trip charge. Am I being unfair? Please advise.

    TQ.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ronnie,

      In my opinion, I think the landlord should pay for things that break under normal wear and tear. I think the tenant should be responsible for things that break due to excessive or improper use, or things that just normally wear out – like light bulbs and air filters.

      So yes, I think charging a $80 trip charge is not fair if the thing being repaired is the landlord’s responsibility to fix.

  • Lena Williams

    Hi I ve been in in this house for 3 1/2 years and from the first week the basement started backing up with feces. ,and every month and a half afyer that. I dealt with this for two ans a half years before the landlord dug up the backyard. six months affer that the basement backs up again. I talked to the plumber and he states that she hasnt dug far enough to the city line .now my landlord wants me to pay,$150 and myself and my children are respobsible for cleanup each time it backed up. I dont think this is fair when there was a pre exsting plumbing probleme

    • Lucas Hall

      HI Lena,

      You’re right, that’s not fair nor do I think you should be responsible for the sewer backup unless you putting things down the toilet that might cause the clog – like diaper wipes or paper towels.

      • .

        No never. My children are well over the diaper wipe age. I had a conversation with the plumber and he states that she needs to dig further out towards the city line. What should I do?

  • Veronica luva

    Hello,
    I have a really short question, which I’m assuming someone already asked. Can the landlord charge me for a electrical issue. My bathroom lights was flickering when I moved it, but now it complete went out. Since it was something I obviously had no control of, can they charge me?

  • Wyatt N

    Hello,
    I had a question about repair fee’s. I put in a request to have my washer fixed through my landlord, he uses an independent contractor to fix things. My landlord asked if I would be around that same day because he didn’t know if his contractor could come out. I told him I might be around for part of the day, unfortunately I had to leave and missed the contractor. He left his card and came back later that week, but now I’m receiving a bill for missing the contractor. My landlord left a letter saying we neglected or abused the washer, but its from 1985 and broke on its own. My landlord wants us to pay the fee for the contractor coming out and repairing it. What would be your advise to go about this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Wyatt,

      I my opinion, it sounds like the landlord should be responsible for that repair, any excessive water, and any contractor fee that comes along with it.

      However, depending on what you said to him, you could be responsible for that missed contractor fee if you led him to believe you would be there, but then didn’t tell him when you wouldn’t. If my tenant said “I’ll only be there part of the day” then I would clarify to find out the exact times.

      Ultimately, I think you’re just going to have to work it out with the landlord yourself.

  • brenda

    hi,
    a tenant moved out and left the apartment filthy so i documented it and am hiring a cleaning professional to clean it and deducting the deposit. no problem. The bathroom tub area was severely neglected and upon cleaning it we discovered water has seeped in behind the tub seal into the wall and it will now need sheetrock repair and mold mitigation as well as the replacement bathtub panel. my question is, due to the neglect of this tenant there is alot of damage to be repaired. can i recover any monies from the deposit for this kind of repair? and if so, how should I explain it to him in a itemized form.
    thankyou.

  • Steve K

    Hi, Lucas… We have a landlord that is trying to charge us for repairing the HVAC system for normal wear and tear maint. We have a repair deductible of $100, but the lease is vague regarding what’s considered tenant responsibility.

    Although the lease says the landlord will provide heating and cooling systems in good working condition, he that the repair deductible clause is for any repair, including normal unit wear and tear. In other words, all repairs are my responsibility including the HVAC. We didn’t argue about other appliance repair deductibles, but feel the landlord should be responsible. Is there any legal references we can use to hold them responsible for basic central system up keep?

    Steve K.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Steve,

      That’s a classic case of the landlord trying to pawn off his responsibilities to the tenant. Even if there is a repair deductible in the lease, many states still say that the landlord is responsible for normal wear and tear damage – but not to be confused with things that have a short life span and that the tenant “uses up”, like light bulbs, air filters, smoke detector batteries, etc.

      It’s my opinion that if the HVAC broke due to normal usage, the landlord should pay for 100% of the repair – even if there is a stupid repair deductible in the lease. The same could be said about the roof. If the roof started leaking, do you think it would be okay to charge the tenant a deductible for that? of course not!

      Anyway, with landlords who pull this garbage, they either 1) are ignorant to the real rules, or 2) they don’t care. If it’s the former, you could do some research of your state laws (https://www.landlordology.com/state-laws). If it’s the later, you might need to send a strongly worded letter to the landlord from an attorney.

      Good luck – please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

      • Steve K

        Thanks, Lucas… I pushed back with them yesterday with similar comments about the wear and tear. They called me back last night and agreed to handle the heater repair. We’re expecting the repairman this afternoon. Good thing too, because I heard we might get some Snow tomorrow (in April??).

        Thanks again for the recommendations and information.

        Steve

  • Kate Horrell

    Hi Lucas,

    Like you, I do not like repair deductibles or repair fees. However,my tenants are constantly calling for repairs that turn out to be frivolous, such as as a bathtub water leak that can’t be replicated and appears to be the result of children playing. How do you transfer the costs of these visits to the responsible party?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kate,

      I would suggest that you ask them to video the problem (such as an actual drip) with their phones. Hence, make them prove it before you run over there.

      Alternatively, if you send a plumber over there that can’t replicate the issue, then it’s okay to tell the tenant that they will have to pay for that. Force them to have a serious issue before calling you. Force them to prove it.

  • dave

    My child flushed a plastic hook for her potty seat down the toilet. I let my apartment maintenance know and the next day they worked on it. They said they could not get it out. In atempting to free the object they broke the toilet in half. They said they could not get it out. I believe the only reason it had to be replaced was due to them breaking it. I believe it was accidental because they used my personal towel to clean the mess & left it in my tub. Im now being charged $100 for the toilet & $100 for the work. Should i have to pay for this? I believe it couldve been done by taking out the toilet and retrieving the item that way.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dave,

      I hear you. It doesn’t seem fair. I have a 4 year old, and she’s always flushing stuff she shouldn’t.

      But on the other hand, if they couldn’t get the hook out, would they have to replace the toilet anyway? In that sense, was the toilet damaged beyond repair because of the lodged item.

      Logically, I don’t see why they couldn’t just remove the toilet, fish out the item from the other end, and reinstall it.

      But in my opinion, any sort of plumbing cost associated with a clog caused by a tenant should be paid by the tenant. At the end of the day, none of this would have happened if the potty seat hook didn’t get flushed. … just my opinion.

  • Landlord

    I can attest from my experience of over 10 years that deductibles actually work as a barrier for tenants from damaging the property. Ask any home owner who has rented their property and they will tell you the horror stories of how tenants destroy properties even in a very good neighborhood and even with going through the selection process of picking the “right” tenant. I had tenants constantly hammering me with repairs every 2 months. A tenant would flush just about anything and would ask me to fix the plumbing. Another tenant at a different house reported “shelfs coming down” or “glass broke due to high winds”. Turns out her daughter was doing the damage. When I initiated the deductibles, the repairs went to zero!! Deductibles work ppl.

  • Ellie

    I put in maintance request for my leaking sink on 10th and it wasn’t until the 21st when they came out it did a poor quick repair. I truly believed I was waiting for approval for the faucet to be replaced. So, I paid my rent earlier because of how our pay structural fell I didn’t want to pay late rent fees. The following month on the 4th I get a ledger saying I have a late fee and additional 10 dollar a day fees. They put a Maintance fee of $55 on previous month after I already paid rent. Also, instead of calling a Maintance fee the management group called it additional rent. I wasn’t aware of the additional rent fee, they waived the late fees as long I paid the $55. So, few days later they put the late fees back online as past dued.

  • Jill Singer

    We have had a lease for the past 7 years in San Diego. We renew it annually w/ no issues. This is our last year and the owner has become a jerk. With a few months remaining we called the home warranty service to make some repairs and we were prepared to pay the $85 call out fee as described in our lease. However, the warranty service told us that the ‘home warranty’ was actually CANCELLED by the landlord five years ago. Thus, we have been paying $4,000 monthly rent and the landlord never amended the lease or the renewal stating that the service was not included. (My husband is really handy so we rarely used it). Is this bait-and-switch? What is our recourse? Is this a breach of the lease and do they owe us some refunds of rent?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jill

      Does your lease specifically state that the landlord shall hold a home warranty policy?

      If not, then it wouldn’t be a lease violation if he didn’t upkeep it. After all, the home warranty is between the owner and the insurance company. But even if he cancelled it, I don’t see the big deal. He would just schedule the repair tech (instead of the home warranty company), and you could still pay $85 towards the bill – if that was the agreement.

      See what I mean?

      • Jill Singer

        HI Lucas: Thanks for your response. Your blog is a wonderful resource!
        So for clarification, the lease (Standard California Association of Realtors lease) states in Item 11:
        “MAINTENANCE: Tenant shall maintain property w/ Home Protection Plan & pay initial call out fee.”
        Then, under item 41 (other terms and conditions):
        “The following ATTACHED supplements are incorporated into this agreement:
        1) Agency Disclosures
        2) Copy of Old Republic Home Protection Plan
        2a) Tenant to pay initial fee for all repairs covered under Old Republic. If there is a repair that is not covered Tenant is to email owner with descriptions repair & owner will give the tenant the contractor to contact at the owner’s cost.”
        However, they cancelled the service.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Jill

          That section certainly would imply that the Landlord should upkeep the service (IMO).

          Even so, it an even bigger leap to try to prove that you are owed money back, since 1) you didn’t use the service for years, and 2) the money you pay is likely just called “rent” and there isn’t a separate payment to go towards reimbursing the landlord for the premium. The premium is something he pays, and it would be tough for you to establish a claim on it.

          Maybe you can make him pay for 100% of the future repairs, since there’s no warranty. Wouldn’t that save you money too?

  • Bryan Mathis

    Should a lardloard charge the tenants for pressure washing the siding on a property.

    And use the tenant water while cleaning the property.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bryan

      It all depends on how the lease is written.

      • Bryan Mathis

        Mr Hall I do understand this I guess my question should be direct. The landlord is charging deductibles for all repairs including building maintenance , this is unheard of. I see normal wear and tear.. Confused on if this is a rental or a personal property.

  • destini

    my apartments are income based and charge for everything kinda makes you not want to go to them for any repairs i went to ask them about it and they said its not them charging its maintenance charge there own prices which i think is unfair my smoke detector fell and they wanna charge me 50 dollars for putting it back up then i was charged 150.00 for a bathroom door cause the wood came out what should i do

  • destini

    my apartments are income based and charge for everything kinda makes you not want to go to them for any repairs i went to ask them about it and they said its not them charging its maintenance charge there own prices which i think is unfair my smoke detector fell and they wanna charge me 50 dollars for putting it back up then i was charged 150.00 for a bathroom door cause the wood came out what should i do…. it was never mention in my lease about it

  • S

    I live in Houston, TX. My lease agreement lists certain conditions which exempts me (tenant) from paying a repair cost if not negligent. Example, heater and air conditioning system. My landlord wants me to pay a service call fee. I was informed by my landlord the repair cost and service call fee are different. Is it legal for landlord to have tenant pay a service call fee for conditions that are uninhabitable?

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