Tenants Pay a Portion of Appliance Repairs

12 Replies

Hi all,

I've been advised to add a clause in my lease stipulating that tenants pay for a portion of repairs. The idea being that such a clause will prevent them from calling in repair people without thought. Historically, I have never had a tenant call a repair person. If there is an issue tenants either submit a maintenance request via our website or call me. 

Either way, it seems that we are going to add this clause (unless I hear a convincing reason for not doing so).

As such, I'm looking for a lease clause to have tenants pay the first $x of any repair to appliances etc. excluding major mechanical systems and roof (which are my responsibility.)

Does anyone have a similar clause they wouldn't mind sharing?

I'm also interested in any input from people who have used such a clause and the positive/negative impact.

Thanks.

I think that might fall under the laws of habitability, and the clause might be unenforceable. But I am no lawyer, so don't base your decision on me.

Something breaks, and it's a $50 repair. But the tenant doesn't want to pay for it, so they don't report it.  2 years go by and the tenant leaves. Now it's a $300 repair.

And Benjamin said, in some states like Oregon you are going to run into habitability laws which prevent you charging repair fee's for "habitability" related appliances like ovens and refrigerators if you provide them.  I think washers and dryers may be exempt.  Check your state specific rental laws

If the landlord owns the appliances, the landlord needs to step up to the plate and fix them.


Joe Gore

@Benjamin Timmins  @Steve B.

Thanks for your input. I'll need to look into this a bit further.

@Dawn Anastasi  

"Something breaks, and it's a $50 repair. But the tenant doesn't want to pay for it, so they don't report it. 2 years go by and the tenant leaves. Now it's a $300 repair."

This is exactly the fear that I have. 

Does anyone use a similar clause? I would really like to hear from someone who has had success (assuming that person exists).

I have a clause in my lease that states that negligence on the part of the tenant that causes damage to an appliance (or the toilet/sink/shower), is their responsibility. My contractor shows them how to use the appliances when they move in, and they have the owner's manuals. The biggest issues are overloading the dishwasher, washer and dryer, and/or flushing things down the toilet that weren't eaten first.

Is the primary purpose of the clause to share the repair costs or have the tenant's contact you prior to calling a repair man? You may not need to have a repair-cost sharing provision if you want to do the latter. As other posters have mentioned, any repair-cost sharing provision may be unenforceable under applicable law (e.g., state, county, or city).

If your goal is for tenant's to reach out to you before calling a repair man, you can probably draft language requiring the tenant contact you for repairs prior to contacting a third-party repairman. If they contact a third-party repairman, then you may charge an inspection fee for reviewing the third-party repairman's work. Perhaps, the inspection fee will encourage the tenant to reach out to you first. If you add such language, you should probably discuss this with your tenant's during the move-in walk through.

NOTE: This is not legal advice.

By your own admission it seems like you are trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.  For my properties I am the landlord so I step up and take care of the problems.  

In our rental agreement it is the responsibility of the tenant to inform us in a timely manner of any malfunctioning appliance provided by us. If a tenant calls in a repair company, we will not pay for the repair. We remind tenants that we can usually get something fixed sooner, properly and at less cost than what the tenant might attempt themselves. We specify in the rental agreement what the tenant can and can't do on their own.

The tenant agrees to properly use the appliances in accordance with manufacturer instructions and assumes all responsibility for their care and cleaning. We take care of repair and replacement as needed.


I don't want my residents to fix anything. Not so funny story: had a resident attempt to fix a ceiling fan and couldn't reassemble it. I spent 40+ hours trying to find parts and attempt to reassemble it. Should have either (1) charged them for a whole new fan. (It's impossible to determine which part is missing!) Or (2) told them no more ceiling fan to be provided for their duration until their move out.

Similar to what @Marcia Maynard does, we do not allow tenants to repair anything nor call anyone but our contractor. The lease states that; it also states that the tenant cannot allow any person or entity to lien the property for any reason. We discuss this with them when we go over the lease before they sign it.

If it were me I think I would prefer a rewards program.  Say;  a $10. gift certificate for every legitimate problem they contact me with.  The cost of fixing what just happened / started Now will always be less that the cost of fixing something we don't find out about for weeks, months or years.

I had a few properties where everything was ala carte - each appliance was leased to the tenant under a separate month-to-month lease agreement.  Wash, Dryer, Dishwasher, Garbage Disposal, Chest freezer, etc.

But as far as that clause you asked about;  if it were me I would instead insert a clause stating that ALL issues with the property are to be brought to my attention immediately.  And that Not doing so will constitute tenant negligence and abuse - damages from same being chargeable to the tenant.  Tenant shall have no other option for problem resolution - calling me or my agents would be the only acceptable course of action.

I would absolutely refuse to have a tenant select my contractors.  A tenant can't just call  someone that you have not approved - you just can't have it:  there is too much risk on too many different levels.

The only way that clause you asked about could work would be if there was a very comprehensive inspection of the property performed on a monthly, or shorter term, basis.

stephen
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  Originally posted by @Lucas Pfaff :

Hi all,

I've been advised to add a clause in my lease stipulating that tenants pay for a portion of repairs. The idea being that such a clause will prevent them from calling in repair people without thought. Historically, I have never had a tenant call a repair person. If there is an issue tenants either submit a maintenance request via our website or call me. 

Either way, it seems that we are going to add this clause (unless I hear a convincing reason for not doing so).

As such, I'm looking for a lease clause to have tenants pay the first $x of any repair to appliances etc. excluding major mechanical systems and roof (which are my responsibility.)

Does anyone have a similar clause they wouldn't mind sharing?

I'm also interested in any input from people who have used such a clause and the positive/negative impact.

Thanks.

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