Landlord or tenant at fault? Dishwasher not working (detailsbelow

Landlord Forums & Rental Property Questions 4 Replies

Hi! New to this community but would love insight from those who have more experience (understand it is not a legal opinion, but looking for those who may have similar experiences).

Our tenants recently reached out about their sink filling up with water after using the dishwasher the night before, overflowing onto the floor a little. We jumped into action within an hour, getting a plumber to take a look. Ultimately the plumber discovered it was a building pipe blockage (we are in 3-unit building, we are on ground floor so the pipe affects us first). The plumber flushed out the pipes and all seemed ok.

However, the tenants have reached out again saying that the dishwasher has been showing an error since. The error seems to indicate that water is not flowing properly. The tenants are saying they think it's because of the pipe/plumbing issue. I called the plumber, who said it was already showing that error / broken before he started fixing. He said we should find an appliance guy but he is saying it is not his fault. Unclear who is not telling the whole truth here (we'll try to find out).

But if:

1) the dishwasher was broken before the pipe was being fixed - I assume this isn't the landlord responsibility? The tenants signed a conditions report when they moved in and signed off on a working dishwasher

2) the dishwasher truly was showing this error only after the plumbing issue - i'm still confused on whether it is their responsibility or ours to follow up with plumber / find an appliance guy if the plumbing company refuses to admit their fault.

Would appreciate any advice. We can seek more legal advice but think it is a relatively low cost issue. 

@Stephanie T. good luck with this one. he said and she said and they said bla bla bla.

Welcome to being a landlord. Its like having children who cant wash their close, change the empty toilet roll or change a light bulb without calling the landlord. Check the verbiage on the lease on whos responsibility it could be and build a case for your self and then if you are in the right then try and I mean try to get the tenant to pay for some or all of the repair. Also check with their renters insurance policy and see if that could cover it. 

Medium 3Alex Deacon, Deacon Hoover Real Estate Advisors | alex@alexdeacon.com | 412‑613‑4435 | http://alexdeacon.com

I've had a similar issue with a back up with a dishwasher filling up the sink and it was a slow drain that need to be cleaned out to solve the problem. I have some questions that need to be addressed to give an answer. 1. how long have the tenants lived in that unit? If it's been a year or more they could have caused the back up ( by pouring stuff down the sink like grease,cooking oil, etc.) which may have damaged the dishwasher. 2.how old is the dishwasher? unfortunately most appliances have short life spans these days and that one back up could have done it in. As far as getting the tenant to cover the damage you may be out of luck on this unless you can prove that they where somehow deliberately trying to damage the dishwasher or negligent by pouring stuff down the sink that caused the back up. best of luck Mike

Hi, thanks for both responses! A few follow-up below

- The tenants have lived there for 7 months

- For some more context, I'm actually hoping / thinking that the dishwasher isn't broken, it looks like the connection to water got messed up but would likely need an appliance guy to come take a look / help to connect. My question is more about the cost of someone to come reconnect it (the plumber is saying it wasn't him, the tenants may come back and say it is..at the end of the day, should Landlord be responsible for figuring this out / incurring or the tenants?)

- Just checked the seller disclosures, dishwasher was replaced in Jan 16 (so pretty much new)

- An excerpt from the lease below. 

MAINTENANCE USE AND REPORTING: Tenant shall properly use, operate and safeguard Premises, including if applicable, any landscaping, furniture, furnishings and appliances, and all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures, carbon monoxide devices and smoke alarms, deck, and keep them and the Premises clean, sanitary and well ventilated....Tenant shall immediately notify Landlord, in writing, of any problem, malfunction or damage with any item including carbon monoxide devices and smoke alarms on the property. Tenant shall be charged for all repairs or replacements caused by Tenant, pets, guests or licensees of Tenant, excluding ordinary wear and tear. Tenant shall be charged for all damage to Premises as a result of failure to report a problem in a timely manner. Tenant shall be charged for repair of drain blockages or stoppages, unless caused by defective plumbing parts or tree roots invading sewer lines.

Download the instructions for the dishwasher see if it has a section on error messages, the dishwasher may be able to be reset. could be simple fix.. 

We had issue with ours.. the water line to dishwasher had a backflow valve when the dishwasher was installed and the problem was when the line was pressurized (when water was turned on to dishwasher) it made the valve close, caused the error msg... we had to shut water off disconnect the line. and reconnect the line and had to barely turn water on at first until line was pressurized then on to full stream.. sounds crazy but might be a simple reset of something..