Do you let tenants take care of any maintenance in SFR's?

18 Replies


I want to see what is the strategy landlord and property management is used for maintenance and repair requests.

Do you use something in the lease to let the tenant know what they are responsible for and if you do how use word it.

Thank you so much for any help and suggestion.

I don't allow tenants to do any maintenance. If they mess it up, they could cause a flood, or a fire, or just do a really bad looking job. Or worse, get themselves electrocuted.

My lease has this spelled out so there are no misunderstandings.

If you don't care about the property letting the tenant do maintenance might work out, but if it's a nice property the odds are really high against this working out well.

If you've heard the horror stories about the crazy things DIYers and homeowners do when it comes to working on their own houses, just multiply that by 10 for what a renter will do.

Thank you Account Closed.

So I want to know do you ask them to like fix the toilet after they miss it up and clog it or even like small stuff (light balls, fans and..)

Or can I put into the lease that we will fix the stuff that they mess up and they need to pay for it.(I think itemizing it is better)

Sorry I am new and love to learn.

If a plunger doesn't work on the toilet, I call the plumber and the tenant pays for it. Light bulbs and detector batteries, the tenants need to change.

Definitely put in the lease that anything they break will be repaired by you and the tenant must pay for it.

Originally posted by Account Closed:

If a plunger doesn't work on the toilet, I call the plumber and the tenant pays for it. Light bulbs and detector batteries, the tenants need to change.

Definitely put in the lease that anything they break will be repaired by you and the tenant must pay for it.

 I agree, Michelle.  However, when it comes to detector batteries, if the tenant asks, I have no problem going over to change it, or sending someone to do that.  I might be wrong, but I think the landlord has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the detectors are working properly.  I don't want to be held liable (financially or morally) if a tenant dies because a smoke  detector had dead batteries.

I knew someone once who required there tenants to pay the first $100 of any repair call.  It did not matter what broke or who broke it.  The tenant paid the first $100.   

This worked in that the tenants never called, but back fired because some things did not get fixed.  

@Sohrab Khosravi

 I'm putting in my leases that tenants are responsible for pest control.  At move in they receive and clean property free of pests.  After move in it is the responsibility of the tenant.


I agree pest control is on them.  Of course I would do squirrels in the chimney. Ant flies etc. it is on them.   They need to use a plunger themselves. Battery change we  will do but it is  my expectation that they do batteries and light bulbs, but not everyone has a ladder.  

We always change the detector batteries during our 6 month inspections, so they rarely beep in the meantime. If they do, the tenants change them. It is in their lease. We are switching over to the 10 year batteries anyway, so that won't even be an issue at some point.

Sometimes they'll go ahead and do things, but we don't allow them to do any work to the property. The reason is it can be very messy and often their quality is really bad. Also, they'll usually want some sort of reduction in rent, but given their quality is hugely suspect, what exactly is it that you're paying for. Finally, they're not covered by workman's comp, so what happens if they get hurt working "for" you? In all liklihood, you'll just have to pay it.

I never thought about putting a pest control line in my leases.  I've mentioned it verbally before, but I think I'll add such a line now.  A few months ago, some dirty tenants moved out and I had to have the house treated for roaches after they moved out.  No previous tenant had ever complained about pests, and I'd never seen any pests prior to those dirty tenants.  The dirty tenants began complaining about bugs, but when I told them it was their responsibility to pay for extermination because they were keeping a dirty house, they didn't complain any more.  Now the house is rented to a single man and so far he's doing great.

Stating a dollar limit is not a good idea, repairs are on a landlord unless arising from negligence or intentional damage by a tenant. Stating something like that on a per occurrence basis means some things could happen that effect things over time. Put an antenna on a vent pipe, that damages a flange, roof leaks, insulation is soaked later, then the ceiling, then walls, then mold. $700 in damages!

Tenants can acquire a financial interest in the property if the fix, repair or improve the property.

A residential tenant that pays for any item required to be capitalized on a property, depreciated items will mean the landlord is filing a false tax return, you can't take capitalized or expensed items you don't pay for. A tenant can not take any tax application on their taxes for such expenses unless they are a commercial tenant.

Lawn care is fine (not tree removal or landscaping) interior light bulbs, batteries, cleaning supplies they use inside, gutter cleaning, well/water filters and salt for water softener, mail post and box (if rural and common for the area), pest control, exterior cleaning of siding, doors, windows could be allowed. Basically, small items that are expendable and consumed by the tenant, things that are simply labor to clean and keep in good condition. When items become nailed to the property, made as real property, that improve the life or use of the property you need to cover such matters and look to your tax requirements as scheduled.

You can certainly pass debts service, management, taxes, insurance, common utility expenses and HOA dues and ongoing expenses being included in the rents.

It's always good to check with a local attorney to review your lease starting off and ensure that what you are doing is common for the area and compliant. I have seen landlords zap tenants for maintenance and a few years later they go to court on an eviction of another tenant, the court learns of the practice and the landlord is ordered to return money or a fine or they get both and the tax issues are brought up too. I know of tenants that made repairs and then take it off the rents due, a big tiff begins, in court the tenant wins.   :)

I don't consider gardening maintenance but some tenants do.  I try to be clear on this.   In a single family if I cut the lawn that is all I do.  They are free to plant in existing beds or ask me if they want to plant elsewhere.   I verbally go over with them that they cannot rototill the law to make a garden without a discussion with me.  (I have septic) and they need to return things to the original state when leaving.

In the lease I include who mows and shovels snow.  The rest of it I say no tenant repairs.  I had one set of tenants that broke the sliding glass door and were going to replace it themselves with another door frame and all. I saw the door and said what is that...

Thank you everybody for the awesome information.

I owner finance my ~60k houses and my end buyers maintain them. You have to be sure you get a 'good' buyer who is going to take care of the house, but it works well in my town. 

Batteries, Bulbs, Basics = On the tenant.   If they ask me to do it ~ I tell them where the nearest hardware store is.

I'm a bit more proactive on pest control & landscaping.  It doesn't take much neglect to really cause an expensive problem.

Mowing is on the tenant ~ roundup & grass seed isn't bad so should they decide to neglect weeds, its not a huge deal. Flower beds, tree pruning, etc... I pay my landscaper to take care of twice per year. I also spray twice per year around each SFH. It keeps a majority of the bugs (and ant calls) away, and I don't have to worry about an infestation at the end of the lease term.

Just my $.02 cents :)

I'm sick of being a landlord! No more for me...  wholesaling & flipping only for this lad. My new motto in life:  "If I don't WANT to do it, and don't HAVE to do it, I shall NOT!" 

I'll either replace the need or get someone else to do it FOR me 

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