Need advice tenant informed me they did a repair w/o approval

5 Replies

I need a little advice here. I have a long term tenant who I inherited when I purchased the property he has always called us whenever there was an issue (A/C not working, Broken window, toilet not working etc) Well last night around 8:30 pm we received a call from him that he called a plumber to remove roots from the sewer line and wants us to pay the bill. Now we were out there in April with a plumber due to roots in the sewer line, the plumber and I were there for around 4 hours he ran a camera through the lines and cut out all the roots and then ran the camera through it again and the line was clear. In addition we removed the tree that had grown into the line. 

So here's my question sadly the lease we had our attorney draw up doesn't state that they must call us for repairs (however they always have in the past and we have always taken care of it within a day) but it does state they can't make any improvements or changes to the property without prior approval. He never attempted to contact us and said that around 2 weeks after we had the roots removed that the problem came back. So he's saying he has had some degree of issues with his toilet since mid April but he never bothered to contact us about it. Now 5 months later he just calls someone out there without calling us. Had he called us more than likely we could have had the same plumber come back at little to no cost. So would you reimburse the tenant for this? I haven't even seen the invoice yet and he didn't give us an amount. I'm kind of inclined not to pay it as if he called us like he has in the past as soon as he noticed the issue we could have taken care of it.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Does your lease say notify you in writing with maintenance issues? Problem since mid-April, didn't contact you, and now it's a same-day emergency? Something's fishy here. Probably split the bill and give him a stern warning not to do it again or the next one's on him. Followup with a letter and a new revised lease stating the terms.

@Todd Mulholland You have to consider what is best for you. I wouldn't want to pay anything unless I saw an invoice. Once I got the invoice, I would call the office of the company he used to ask them to send you the invoice to make sure they match up. On the other hand, you want to keep your tenant happy so I would consider just paying it if its not too much. I would also be very clear with him going forward that you want to be in charge of all repairs since you own the house. Good luck!

Jeremy Pakalka, Real Estate Agent in TX (#674835)
713-828-3424

1) get another attorney - - negligence IMO

2) rewrite the lease - - Tenant is forbidden to make alterations, improvements or additions without prior written permission.

3) In addition, any such alterations, improvements or additions become the property of the Leasor, even with written permission.

Definitely he should have called the landlord. That part needs addressing, i.e. the protocol for repairs and maintenance. 

That said, unless there's collusion between him and the plumbing outfit, roots in the line are pretty easy to prove with a camera. The other thing is that when roots get in once, they can get in forever, and a tree cut down can still have root growth until all energy stored is exhausted. So your first call should be to the plumbing outfit to discuss what they found and what they did. 

I would inform him that since he did not call you in advance and since you have never authorised him to call contractors directly that you will not be paying for a service that you do not know was needed.

Tenants should have no authority to engage contractors without authorisation from the landlord and if they do they should never be compensated by the landlord. This would set a very bad president of placing a tenant in a position of being fully responsible for your property.

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