The #1 Most Important Clause To Have In Your Lease

17 Replies

Read my story as I explain how one small property management lease omission can cost big bucks.

What Happened:

I own quite a few rentals in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After heavy rains yesterday, I got a phone call last night saying one of my properties was flooded.

I was surprised because no tenant from any of the other ten houses on the same street told me their basement flooded. It turns out all three girls in the house were flushing their tampons down the drain.

Somehow, they didn’t know the potential problem it could create. Why, when I did that once, my dad scolded me!

The Result:

I now have a $2500 bill to pay to Disaster Relief Co. for removing the water. I paid $250 to get the drain unclogged. Plus now, I’m going to have to clean the carpets and everything else.

Overall, I just got hit with three to four thousand dollars in expenses — over tampons.

I had to call the tenant and make sure to say “you’re not allowed to flush tampons down the toilet.”

The Moral:

Basically, the moral of the story is if you own rentals, make sure that your lease states that tenants are not allowed to flush tampons down the toilet. If it happens, then they actually have to cover the cost.

So if you don’t know if your lease has this clause, you should review it to ensure it does. You all should also make sure your property manager’s lease states it clearly that you cannot flush tampons down the toilet.

Even if not in the lease, many states have tenant/landlord laws that hold the tenant responsible if the condition was caused by a deliberate or negligent act of the tenant.

As always, seek professional legal advice. Good luck.

Originally posted by @Craig Bellot :

That’s true @Matt Shields   However I think it adds an extra level of transparency of its included in the lease and the “rent talk” with resident upon move in. 

 If that's the case in your state, why are you paying for the damage? 

@Craig Bellot Sorry to hear about your plight but just because you have certain wording in your lease doesn’t change anything . Sure you can get their deposit but you’ll still be stuck with that bill in the end either way . You think the tenant would pay that 2500$ bill ? They won’t
@Craig Bellot instead of blacklisting tampons I’d just whitelist human waste and TP In the lease. This will prevent condoms or other product liability issues and it’s more gender neutral which may or may not end up being relevant

@Craig Bellot

Craig, as a property manager or rental owner, have you ever had a flooded basement issue before? I have, and that much money for a flood cleanup is absolutely nuts. I can see that a person who doesn't see mastering basic residential plumbing as part of his business strategy paying a plumbing service $250 to clean out a sewer line. But as far as a flooded basement goes -- a basic submersible pump costs under $100 and clears a lot of water quickly. For what they charged you, you could theoretically have had four or five pumps running down there and still saved a ton of money by clearing the water yourself. This is not a criticism, and nothing is worse than the jerko piling insult on injury by Monday-morning-quarterbacking very expensive crisis decisions. Am I missing something?

Originally posted by @Steve B. :
@Craig Bellot instead of blacklisting tampons I’d just whitelist human waste and TP In the lease. This will prevent condoms or other product liability issues and it’s more gender neutral which may or may not end up being relevant

This is how it is worded in my leases.  After I had a "baby wipes" incident in one of my rentals.  Another item commonly flushed down the toilet that can cause clogs.  According to my plumber, even "flushable" wipes should not be flushed down the toilet because they don't break down in water fast enough and can potentially cause a clog also.  In fact, during the lease signing, this clause is one of the items I will specifically draw attention to and also explain verbally.

I have a list of mostly common sense rules all tenants sign with their lease that states no tampons or wipes (even disposable wipes) can be flushed down the toilet - only human waste and T.P. 

It sounds ridiculous to have to tell tenants this but I do so because I'll never forget the incident when I was in graduate school and my girlfriend at the time had her Lexus covered in T.P. and human waste because her roommate, Susan, was flushing tampons down the toilet, clogged the waste pipe and as fate would have it my girlfriend had her parking spot underneath the waste pipe (and the plumbers did the work without telling her to move her car).

She was so mad. And when she asked her roommate if she had been flushing and Susan said yes my ex told me Susan was surprised to learn that tampons will clog pipes. 

Also, my tenants must have renter's insurance and I must be listed on the policy so I know if they cancel. 

There's been recent discussions on requiring renter's insurance where there is liability coverage if damages are caused by tenant negligence. This surely would be one of them. In reply to the original topic, surely one of the most important requirements in the lease.

@Craig Bellot I do not disagree with you and it should be in there. But, the likelihood of getting $3000-4000 out of a tenant are unlikely at best. Unless you're renting A+ units in A+ neighborhoods, good luck with that. Slight exaggeration with the A+ but still, most of the time tenants wont have that to pay.

@Craig Bellot Live and learn. It is pretty unfortunate of course. I had the same issue. Thankfully, I borrowed a boiler plate lease from another investor and this was specifically in the lease. Always a great idea to double check your leases with other investors. Basically, just exchange leases and both of you can go over the others with a fine toothed comb. Having other eyes on it can point out things missing and even grammatical errors. So, collaboration with “competition” helps everyone.