Can a Landlord Charge for Plumbing Repairs?

Leaky faucet? Clogged sink? Overflowing toilet? Water gushing from the apartment above? No one wants to deal with plumbing problems. But can your landlord charge for plumbing repairs in situations like this? The answer is not always a clear one.

When Your Landlord Pays for Plumbing Repairs

Generally speaking, a landlord is supposed to cover repairs related to ensuring your apartment remains livable. For instance, if the shower has sprung a leak and it can’t be used, the landlord should fix it. (Of course, you’ll need to notify your landlord about the problem.)

But if the kitchen faucet is merely dripping and the sink can still be used, your landlord isn’t forced to repair it, unless your lease clearly states that such repairs are the landlord’s responsibility. A reputable landlord will typically fix something like this at no charge, though, even if the landlord isn’t required to do it.

When You Pay for Plumbing Repairs

Now, if you, a roommate or a guest causes a plumbing problem — for instance, someone intentionally breaks one of the parts in your toilet tank, prompting the toilet to overflow — then repairing the damage is normally your responsibility as a tenant. In other words, your landlord could charge you for fixing the toilet.

Let Your Lease Determine Who is Responsible

Ultimately, your lease, your state laws, and your local laws establish who’s in charge of making certain types of plumbing repairs. Be sure to read your lease to find out what your rights and responsibilities are.

If you and your landlord disagree on who’s supposed to fix your plumbing, you’ve got a number of options. They include:

  • Seeking help from a local group that represents apartment tenants.
  • Reporting the issue to your city’s code inspection office.
  • Taking your landlord to court.
  • Repairing the problem on your own (and then trying to subtract the cost from your rent).
  • Putting up with the problem till your lease expires.
  • Breaking the lease and moving out.

If it feels like you’re coping with a flood of plumbing problems where you live now, and your landlord fails to respond appropriately to these problems, it might time to consider moving to a new apartment. After all, if the plumbing at your current place is a hassle, what else is going to cause headaches for you, the tenant?

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