Who is responsible when pipes freeze and burst? Tenant no propane

10 Replies

My tenant apparently did not order propane for his rental.  I was not told until after pipes froze and broke.  Apparently he was just using a small space heater for his room.  So who is responsible for the broken pipes? He is saying I am responsible for anything like that but how can i know and not know he doesn't have propane? I'm not willing to pay for his propane every month.  He told me it is not his fault he cannot afford it.  He has been there three years and knew when he moved in he had to have propane.


You will get stuck paying for it no matter who's "fault" it is....... the guy cant afford to pay for propane...... how are you going to get $$ from a stone to fix the pipes?

What's the status of the lease?...... I'd start an eviction and fix the pipes.....move on to the next tenant

Got a decent deposit?

I know I'm going to pay for it regardless.  I'm not expecting him to pay.  I just want to know if the issue happens again who is responsible.   

I've already used his deposit up and then some on his rental for several things. 

An issue like this will rely heavily on your lease (as far as small claims court goes).  For the future I'd get yourself added onto the Propane account and make sure you're alerted when it drops below a certain level.  One of my properties propane suppliers can monitor levels and will auto-fill it when it goes below a certain level.

Isn’t there a way that they can be put on a schedule for propane depending on usage? I know they do that stuff for oil.

It is tenant caused damage. Start the eviction and take him to small claims court to collect.  He will pay at some point to clear his record or you garnish his wages. If he is S8 lesson learned.

@Thomas S. has the only correct answer. The tenant is responsible for maintaining the utilities and preventing the home from freezing. He can't afford propane which means he can't afford your rental.

Personally, I would turn the water off and declare the home uninhabitable. Get him out immediately so you can focus on getting heat back on and making repairs. Then start over.

I recommend reviewing your lease and ensuring it states tenant SHALL maintain utilities at all times. It should also state Tenant is responsible for any damages caused by negligence or abuse. This is basic and necessary to protecting your investment.

I would not renew his lease under any circumstances. Unless your lease requires propane I doubt you can evict him. You may even need to provide propane now to get you thru this winter yourself just to prevent the pipes from bursting again. I am not familiar with propane but I would think it would be cheaper to provide propane than to repair burst pipes. The tenant is not going to do it himself since he seems to be broke.

With the next tenant include a stipulation in the lease that the tenant must maintain propane in the property. Also check with your local propane company to find out if there is a propane policy which allows for the landlord to be notified if propane is not supplied. I have such a policy with the electric company in case our tenant was to stop paying and the lights were to be shut off. And lastly do a better background check with your next tenant and make sure that their income will support all of their bills.

@Amy Beth If the guy can't afford to put propane to heat his home then he obviously has no money above and beyond what he is paying you in rent. This is not that uncommon in lower income rentals. So obviously getting any money out of him right now for the pipes isn't an option as I am sure you know. In a normal world obviously he would be responsible, but this guy is obviously living in Banana Land.

I would start the eviction proceedings right away and get him out ASAP. 

To add on to the good advice of others (except for the turning off the water suggestion--I think that could possibly get you in trouble), please in the future *never* use a security deposit while the tenant is in place. The security deposit is *only* to help you cover the cost of repairs once the tenant has *vacated*.

If a tenant obviously damages something during their tenancy, you bill them to reimburse you for that on the following month's rent. Never take from the security deposit.

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