WWYD re tenant making a small problem bigger?

7 Replies

Have a tenant who a student and went home for break for a few weeks over the summer. He's been back a couple weeks now and text yesterday to explain that the toilet had been leaking and he shut the water off to it while he was gone in case it got worse but that when he went to turn the water back on the tank cracked. Its not totally clear to me what happened but I get the impression he took the tank off trying to fix the issue himself and dropped it putting it back on causing the crack which ultimately resulted in us having to replace the entire toilet. Since its an out of town property, we paid $100 to have it installed and another $80 for the toilet. 

He rents a SFH and in general we ask that he take care of general house maintenance (ie we're not driving down to change a light bulb or fix a fence picket but if there is a repair, especially one that requires immediate attention, that he contact us. I'm conflicted between being glad he was willing to look to see if it was a simple seal he could replace to being irritated because he likely turned a $5 fix into a $180 one. We've already covered the cost and the repair has been made but I'm curious what other landlords do in this situation - do you just consider it part of the job and suck it up or do you hold the tenant responsible?

All part of the job. If it happens again then I might question it though.

I just pay to get it fixed or fix it myself.

I think it's hard for a tenant to know the difference sometimes between issues they can/should address themselves and something they should call the landlord for, especially when they've been instructed to handle small maintenance issues themselves (as you state) because you're out of town.

He probably thought this was a small issue, tried to address it, then it became bigger.  We all know that happens, especially when plumbing is concerned.  I'd be pretty happy that he was smart enough to turn the valve off when leaving for an extended time.

I'd chalk this up to "landlording" and let it go and be grateful it's only $180.

I can't imagine why a tank would crack just by turning the water back on, so agree that he probably did break it himself. I agree with you about light bulbs and fence pickets, but would advise making it clear that if there is any problem concerning water leaking, your tenants are to report it to you immediately. That -- and electrical issues -- is something you can't afford to take a chance on.

Just my 2 cents but even if you were mad about it there is no way you could prove that it was his fault absolutely, and he would end up being mad that you were making him the bad guy especially if he was trying to do the right thing and save you some money.

To be honest it could have happened to anybody, toilets are not the most sturdy thing and I've even broken a few, although I deal with them on a regular basis as part of my W-2 job.

Pay it and don't say much to him about it.  He was trying to help and made a mistake.  It happens.

Now, if another toilet is broken, I'd charge him at least half the cost to repair/replace it.  Once is okay.  Twice needs to be addressed.

Thanks all for reconfirming we did the right thing. He's been a great tenant and I didn't plan to hold him accountable but it just brought up the question for me of how we would handle it in the future with him or any other tenant.