Clogged drain from hair, tenant's responsibility right?

49 Replies

Sanity check here, I am not responsibly for a clogged drain due to hair from the tenants, right? Tenant just told me that the drain is clogged from hair and wants me to come fix it. Should I hire someone to fix and bill tenant or should I just tell them to take care of those sort of problems? Thanks!

I would tell the tenant to go buy some Drano.

Did you state so in your leasing agreement? i know some state that the tenant is "responsible for plumbing repairs"

Ewww... Nasty. I would tell them that they can pull it out with some tweezers or you will call a plumber but they will foot the bill. That's like them flushing feminine products and wanting you to come plunge them up. No thanks. (as always use your lease as your guide.)

First off, I always recommend referring to the lease in situations like this. Second, for your own protection and wallet I would NOT leave this up to your tenant to fix. Yes, it's a pain; however, you protect the value of the property by ensuring it's well maintained. For a small price, you can prevent additional maintenance down the line and keep your tenant happy. Tenants who feel cared for take better care of your property. It’s a good thing that your tenant will report plumbing issues. Happy tenants = less turnover (the most expensive cost to a landlord) and properties in better condition.

I have this statement in the lease "tenant will, at its sole expense, keep and maintain the premises and appurtenances in good and sanitary condition and repair during the term of this agreement". Nothing specific about plumbing.

I have always taken care of this type of situation myself for a few reasons:  1. I don't want my tenant leaving Drano in the drain long enough to eat through the pipes.  2. I inherited some of my tenants with no written lease to say it's their responsibility.  3. They are low fixed income and would probably just let it go instead of pay to fix it.  4.  Good tenants, let's keep it that way and keep them there.

Depends on your lease. In mine it says that all drains operate on signing date and that any clogs are the responsibility of the tenant. Then I verify with the tenant that they operate properly during the move in inspection and note that on the form.

To educate your tenant is your best defense you will be surprised how many do not know simple preventive maintenance tricks.

I'd make sure your lease covers this situation, but then I would also take care of it as a one-time courtesy for the tenant, especially if they pay on time and are good to you.

I'd also consider whether you can do anything to prevent this from happening in the future. For example, in my personal residence's upstairs bathroom, I know I have to remove the drain cover and clean it out with pliers every 3 months. If I had a tenant who called me about the slow-draining tub, I would pay to fix it and then change out the drain style to something less likely to clog, such as something with a grate cover.

I'd also keep in mind that hair going down the drain in a shower or tub is normal. If it's indeed hair plugging the drain, and not a toy/hygiene/diaper item, it's really up to the landlord to improve the configuration to prevent this. Alternatively, if it's something the tenant can fix themselves (like I have to do at my property), you could train them in on the procedure.

i agree with everyone above. 

1. Yes lease is your guide.    Situations like this seem like a good time to instill in  your tenant some good common sense and how you would like them to behave as a tenant. 

2. As Daniel mentioned above the last thing we want in that drain in drano. If you or a plumber does have to come behind that it is no fun and that crap wrecks your pipes if left sitting in there. 

I would take care of it and also teach the tenant how to take care of it themselves in the future. 

A "Zip-It" tool (less than $5 at many other hardware stores and also available on line) is often all that is needed to clear hair out of a drain. See this link:

http://zipitclean.com/

Also, a quarter cup of baking soda followed by two doses of a quarter cup of white vinegar, will freshen the drain and keep gunk from building up. Have the tenant do this once a month.

We don't allow tenants to use caustic drain cleaning products in our plumbing... for the long term viability of the pipes and for the safety of the plumbers who work on them.

I put a plunger under sink and I have supplied a small spring type drain auger they are about $15 

Usually first time I show them how to use it after that they are on their own (I will ask them if they are having anymore problems )

Here is what will happen if you charge the tenant:

The next time they get a clog (and Michael above is quite right, a drain should be able to handle hair, and if these won't, they will clog again), the tenant will not call you.  Instead, they will buy Drano, or unravel a wire clothes hanger and shove it down the drain to dislodge the clog.

Good luck proving that your prematurely rotted out pipes are due to Drano that has long since washed away, or that cracks are due to the clothes hanger and not other causes.

My general rule for tenants is exactly what the home inspectors rule is.  I expect them to use "Normal Operating Controls."  I don't expect them to open anything, and in fact, tell them not to.

Vinegar and baking soda are actually great for clearing clogged drains, too, and are less expensive and damaging than Drano. Pour down maybe a cup of baking soda, then an equal amount of vinegar and let it sit 15 minutes before running any water. It's also cheap enough and easy enough that tenants can do it without you fearing for your plumbing.

Also, just because it's clogged doesn't mean the drain is damaged, they just can't handle long hair. I've live in new houses--one that we oversaw the entire building process--twice in my life and the drains still get clogged.

@Corey Pascuzzi   Why the hostility?  Is it really such a big deal to go fix it for them?  Why not just be nice and a little generous with your tenants?  View them as customerss; not enemies. 

I think I would lean on the side of @Art Allen 's post and go with fixing it. It would be one thing if they had flushed handiwipes or diapers down the toilet (had both happen to me). Then I think you bill the tenants.

But I think hair is actually pretty reasonable to be in a drain and not something they did to be destructive.  

The other real issue I have with sticking a tenant with that repair is how do you know how much hair was there from the previous tenant? Do you check your drains and make sure they are completely cleared? 

It could very well be that there has been build up over time in those drains and they just happened to be the tenant that came in at the wrong time when everything eventually caught and it started to clog.

That is the biggest reason I believe the landlord should be responsible. Unless you physically inspect each of your drains and make sure there is nothing in them, then I don't see how a tenant should be held responsible for a clog that they may or may not have truly contributed to.


how can you be sure it is their hair and not the previous tenants?  it builds up over time.  (Toilet is another matter.)  I would pay/fix and educate....once the drain is clean it will now definately be their hair!  My plumber always puts in those toe pop drains which screw-off in tubs.  

Men shaving puts quite a bit of debris in vanity drains.  Not bad until it gets bad.

It depends how long they have been at residence.  1-4 months go ahead and foot the bill.  Passed that time they should be responsible.  Tenants need to realize that they are responsible for maintaining the home and that you will not be at their "beck n call". 

To be fair, I only have one rental and I self manage it. Tenants have been in it for over three years and have never been a day late. That buys them a lot if leeway. I would do it for them and not think twice. Also, it gives me a chance to walk thru the house and inspect for any other damages. That little bit of service goes a long way to maintaining a good relationship.

Go clean it out.  If it's in your lease that they are responsible for the cost of clearing it, they are good tenants, and it's within your skill set remind them of that and fix it.  If you can't fix it and need a pro, then remind them of the lease and charge them.  At the time of lease signing, I show the tenants that all drains work and they sign. 

Originally posted by Account Closed:

I would tell the tenant to go buy some Drano.

Michelle,

I strongly disagree with your statement.

We forbid our tenants from using Drano or any similar product.  Depending on what you have for waste lines in your property, their use will cause more problems than they cure.

In each of our units there is a call list velcro'd the back of a cupboard door and a second copy in the manual that goes with the unit.  Tenants are to call our plumber who will snake the line for them and, depending on the cause of the plug, we will pass the costs through to the tenant.   We normally give our tenant one "freebie" service call.

Originally posted by @Marian Smith :

how can you be sure it is their hair and not the previous tenants?  it builds up over time.  (Toilet is another matter.)  I would pay/fix and educate....once the drain is clean it will now definately be their hair!  My plumber always puts in those toe pop drains which screw-off in tubs.  

Men shaving puts quite a bit of debris in vanity drains.  Not bad until it gets bad.

 Marian:

Snaking/cleaning the drains is one of the items on our rent-ready check list we go through during turn-over.  Not tenant should start off their stay with someone else's clog in the drain.

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