Can you make Tenant pay fix amount for repairs

11 Replies

I am creating Baltimore County, Maryland Tenant lease and want to know if you can make Tenant pay $50 for each service call or $50 for each Repair. Is this legal in Baltimore county?  If i am not mistaking, Landlord is responsible to provide drinking water, functional plumbing, cooking Stove, and heating. Can I still charge Tenant $50 and landlord covers anything thereafter?


Nick Patel

What does your state landlord tenant regulations say regarding maintenance repairs.

Personally I see charging tenants for repairing tenant caused issues however maintenance repairs are exclusively the responsibility of the investor. Why should tenants pay to cover the cost of you maintaining your property. That is what part of their rent is for.

What kind of relationship do you want to have with your tenants? Do you want tenants to let you know when something malfunctions or repair it themselves or just let it go? Anything that falls under the category of habitability is the responsibility of the landlord to provide and upkeep. 

What are you trying to achieve by charging $50 per service call? You'd do better by establishing and maintaining a good landlord tenant relationship that includes a bit of service to your tenants. If you want to charge for out of the ordinary things like a trip charge for unlocking the door for a tenant who accidentally locks themselves out, go ahead.... but then you'll have tenants try to break-in through windows too. When a tenant calls for a service need it's beneficial for me; it gives me another opportunity to interface with the tenant and enter their apartment on short notice. I'm then more likely to see how they really live, including how well they take care of our property.

No, you can not. Why? Its your house and your job to maintain it as a result of anything that happens as a result of "normal wear and tear". Why should a tenant have to pay you if the roof develops a leak and you have to fix it?

@Thomas S. , @Marcia Maynard , and Account Closed,

I agree with you all, but I have been hear from my other friends/landlords that their realtor make the tenant pay fix amount so that the home warranty can cover the rest.

Not sure of the legality of it but I think it is too risky for only a potential savings of $50. I suspect a tenant may not report a minor problem to you to avoid having to pay $50. But many minor problems can turn into expensive and huge problems if not attended to quickly. So in an effort to save $50 you could end up with significant damage and a big repair bill.

@Nick Patel Sure lots of people do illegal stuff out of total ignorance. Of course you have heard the phrase "ignorance of the law is no excuse" You can certainly put it in your lease but you cannot enforce it. 

However It is reasonable and I believe legal to say that service calls for tenant caused damage will encounter fees.

@Nick Patel - It depends on what the service call or repair is for? If it is tenant negligence, then you can absolutely charge them for the repair. If it no fault of theirs, it is on you. You should be taking a percentage of the rent each month and setting it aside for repairs, maintenance, etc. 

This is what I do and I have not had my tenants call me once for repairs. I give them a list of contractors that I use with their phone numbers. I tell them to call the contractors directly and get it the problem fixed if it is under $200. Usually, it is their fault so they pay. Even if it wasn't I would just pay the $200. Can't worry about the little things.

If it is over $200, then I would go and inspect the problem to make sure it was in fact not their fault. If I find out it was their fault, I explain to them nicely what lead me to that conclusion, if not I will pay it. 

Thanks @Ned Carey , @Amy Beth , Account Closed for your response.

I agree, $50 is not worth the risk and gray area.

I've started seeing this tenant co-pay for repairs thing. Whether or not it's legal depends on your state and local law. Is it a good idea? I don't think so. Paying for repairs is part of being a landlord. Having such a policy is going to turn a lot of potential tenants off. Plus they are less likely to report a problem if they know they'll have to pay a fee to have the repair done.

If the tenant caused the problem, then absolutely they should pay to fix it.

I reserve the right to charge for repairs that are clearly due to carelessness and or negligence. One example was a broken garage door  due to the tenants excesive use. Why? He stores parts and small equipment that he uses in his business. The door is up and down more than the regular use as a car parking. The tenant acknowledged the situation and pay for the repair minus a deduction for normal wear and tear. The other side if this issue is that I don't hesitate when anything needs to be fix. It is done promptly and professionally. Tenants appreciate that. I also don't charge the highest rental for the area, I try to aim for the median. 

Be reasonable, communicate clearly but firmly and above all be fair. Most tenants will respond in kind.

I think I can shed a little least on where this premise came from.

Tenants tend to initiate trade calls for their own negligence.  I once had a tenant call me to tell me that the dishwasher stopped working only to find out that she had unplugged it from underneath the sink.  My minimum trade call fee is $65, so if a contractor came out to fix that, what a waste, and that would be her negligence.  I had another tenant plug too many things in, and blow the GFI.  He called me to tell me that the electrical was not working.  Again....all that needed to be done was push the GFCI reset button on the GFCI outlet.  Another tenant put a metal beer cap down the disposal and caused a leak.  Another Tenant who called me about roaches, but when we arrived on scene, her unit looked like a diner after the lunch rush.....You get the idea.

So, the idea of the Tenant paying the first $50 of any repair or trade call fee is to weed out all of the nuisance or negligent calls that tenants make.  IF they first consider that the call will result in a $50 fee to them, they will take the 2 seconds that most of these nuisance calls take to troubleshoot simple, and common issues.

Now, when it comes to actually assessing the charge, @Nick Patel , you need to determine whether this is a nuisance or tenant negligent charge, or a legit repair.  If it is a legit repair, you need to cover the expense of facilitating that repair, including the trade call fee.  However, if it is a nuisance call, or negligent call, I don't see anything wrong with passing that fee along to the Tenant.  Of course, you will need to double check with your laws in Maryland to verfiy your ability to do this.

Best of luck to you!

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