Tenant Shower Head. My responsibility?

19 Replies

So my tenant has a "broken" shower head. More like its clogged. Asked her to clean it and she said it doesn't work still. The tenant and shower head have been there since I purchased the property. It is one of those kinds that detach and extent a few feet with a hose. I assume they put it on at some point before I got here. If I am responsible, I am just going to replace it with a standard lo-flo head with no extension.

Or should I replace it with a similar model? I know she has a young child that she probably uses the hose to bath with. Is it something I should ask them to help or pay for?

call her and tell her it needs cleaned. Or you should stop over and show her how its done. Put the head in a baggie or container of vinegar. Gets hard water deposits off. IF your pipes are throwing rust and scale its plugged inside. Take apart and clean both sides of sceen and holes.

IF taking apart doesnt work get a new one pronto. No sense making a mountain out of a molehill. Make sure the water stays inside the tub and the floor isnt drowned. I personally dont like the hand wands,,,but thats just me. Once they have one, hard to take away.

Do you have hard pipe up high??with another head?

I think a lot of the answer is "it depends".

It depends on whether you want to keep this tenant or is this something that will cause them to move out.

It depends on if it wore out or was damaged.

It depends on your lease agreement.

It depends on how much the replacement cost is vs all of the other costs.

You could offer that if you replace it you will put in a basic, low cost head. If she wants a more extravagant head she can pay for it. Just my opinion.

Good luck.

(I just noticed this was my 500th post!)

For $15-20 and 5 minutes, I'd swap it out and play nice. Happy tenants are more likely to stay longer and pay on time. $20 is way too little in the grand scheme to bother over. A clogged shower head is not the resident's fault. Keep 'em happy, keep 'em in your home and not the other guy's.

I agree with everything stated, but wanted to suggest that you make sure to used a head with an aerator (low flow). It saves money by reducing the water bill AND reducing the water heating bill as well. This might be a opportunity to score a few goodwill points.

I don't like the low flow shower heads.You get calls from the tenants that the water pressure is low and they start messing with things they shouldn't.They also take much longer to shower so they don't save any water and then complain the water doesn't stay hot.

I as a landlord pay the water so I understand low flow.It's just like the new toilets that are supposed to save water.Just wait until you get the tenant complaints of multiple flushes and the toilets are clogged.They don't clean the toilets like they should and it can attract bugs.

I like the powerful toilets that flush everything down in one shot.

The older toilets work better so we just replace the guts inside.In fact people hate the new toilets so much you can find people paying a premium for the old ones on Ebay.

Just my experience with 20 tenants in apartments.

On the shower head see if it is old or they just bought a cheap brand.If it truly is old then I would replace for them.If you just clean it out something else will go wrong with it and multiple places these things can leak water.So even if you clean out and it has leaks at connections that won't correct water pressure will go down.

If the shower diverter is starting to go bad you can also get a complaint of low water pressure because it is not fully sealing to direct the water to the shower head.

There is a great way to avoid situations like this one which I always use. Put in the contract that small fixes up to $50 or $100 (depends on the property), are the responsibility of the tenant. I promise you you will never hear about shower heads, toilet lids, lighting, faucet, etc... ever again!

Originally posted by Ty Joseph:
There is a great way to avoid situations like this one which I always use. Put in the contract that small fixes up to $50 or $100 (depends on the property), are the responsibility of the tenant. I promise you you will never hear about shower heads, toilet lids, lighting, faucet, etc... ever again!

Are you saying that the tenants will just learn to live with things the way they are or that they will fix it themselves? If you mean the latter, I prefer to do the maintenance on my rental as I just don't trust the handy work of a tenant for the most part. Maybe I'm paranoid?

Originally posted by Brian Hoyt:

Are you saying that the tenants will just learn to live with things the way they are or that they will fix it themselves? If you mean the latter, I prefer to do the maintenance on my rental as I just don't trust the handy work of a tenant for the most part. Maybe I'm paranoid?

I'm with you. Secondary problem is they stop reporting issues like drips and suddenly $20 jobs become $1,000 jobs.

I've been dealing with a lot of small stuff on my rentals but they are new so I expected that. What I do now know is that all of my tenants have said I am very responsive and are indicating they want to stay as tenants versus taking a risk on getting a bad landlord.

Originally posted by Ty Joseph:
There is a great way to avoid situations like this one which I always use. Put in the contract that small fixes up to $50 or $100 (depends on the property), are the responsibility of the tenant. I promise you you will never hear about shower heads, toilet lids, lighting, faucet, etc... ever again!

Are you afraid that they just let the problem worsen until it's over the amount you set or they just don't know the difference between a small repair and something major?

We used to do something similar, $30 limit, until we had a tenant who knew the hot water heater was leaking slightly but didn't notify until it gave out as she thought she would have to pay to repair the leak herself as it didn't look that bad to her. Flooded through wall to den and ruined the carpet/padding, etc., all so she could avoid a possible small repair bill that she wouldn't have been responsible for in any case had she just notified us.

Now I just make sure it's in lease that they know they're responsible for light bulbs and batteries (amazed at how many think I'm coming over to change a light bulb for them due to prior apartment living.) When they call for small things like toilet seats, even window screen repair, I have the option of telling them to send the receipt for the parts if I trust them to handle it and deduct it from the next rent.

Just replace it. How much does it cost to get vinegar, drive the item over there and use at least an hour of time you could have been doing something better for meeting your goals? It's a shower head, make it you responsibility and thank the stars it wasn't the fridge, the stove, or the mysterious hole in the wall.

Updated over 8 years ago

I agree with both approaches but let them fix it with tenants I trust and that have standards I can trust.

It sounds like rust/sediment from the pipes. You will be able to tell as soon as you unscrew it and look at the screen. Just clean the screen and replace the shower head (using plumbers tape). If it's hard water deposits, use the vinegar.

The important point made above is to fix it or replace it. This small stuff is never an issue for me (yes, it's a pain) and the goal is a happy tenant. If they feel you care about the place, chances are they will. I wouldn't even think twice about fixing this problem.

As to the $50-$100 repair cost to tenants, this can backfire wildly as Emmit stated. I had a tenant 20yrs ago that didn't report a tub drain leak until the dining room ceiling below fell down. They were afraid that if they called about anything that I would raise the rent. I didn't even have that clause in the lease. Ever since that unhappy incident, I make sure to emphasize to my tenants that they need to call me immediately about any repair issues. I telll them that it's my job to take care of these issues and that a failure to call me may result in consequential damages that WOULD be their responsibility.

I vote for just replacing it; after I notice how they would be treating my property. Take every oportunity to try to avoid other problems they can fix. Like cleaning up to avoid roaches etc. I ran a management company 25 years ago. We managed over 500 units of lower income folks. We used every excuse we could to inspect the inside for un reported problems.
I also worry about the source of your sediment. If This is an apartment unit that shares a common boiler for hot water, you could be building up sediment in the bottom of your boiler.
Don

Yes them being responsible for ANYTHING can be scary.I do not like the lease where they are responsible for first 50 dollars etc.

As stated they never fix anything or report it and it gets worse.I also do not like them to change light bulbs.I have seen them mess up cord chains on ceiling fans,drop the globes and break the lights,take lights out of 4 unit in bathroom and put in another place and only have one bulb left in bathroom so they don't have to buy more,try to use wrong size bulb that reams out the fixture or causes an ark,mess up the outside lighting and rim out the casing that holds the unit to the wall etc.

I have about seen it all.We get the extended life lights so we have less maintenance calls and the tenants like it because it cuts down on their power bills.You can find them on sale as nobody buys them because of price.We find them on sale at Home Depot for half off and stock up.

Same thing with washer and dryer.They install improperly and water comes down into the ceiling when running.

Also they don't call if toilet is running from tank to bowl as they are afraid only 25 dollars to replace so they would have to pay.Instead I tell them we will take care of it and to call us.We build a rep as a landlord not out to rip them off and we take care of them.We also screen tenants heavily to keep out the bad element.

If I made them fix it they would rig it plus since I pay water with one line going to the building by them not reporting my water might be 50 dollars more for that unit that month.

I have seen tenants take off smoke detector and use it for ash tray,take a piece of plastic from a bag and connect it for the pull chain when the rubber one broke on the toilet etc.

So my experience with many tenants is you DO NOT leave it up to them.It costs more money and I end up fixing it anyways.

I think the big distinction here is some investors on here might own a house they are renting out which will be different on many levels from an apartment complex.Someone that owned a home and is now renting might take better care of it versus someone that lived with another person and now wants to rent an apartment.

With my 20 unit I have a repair guy on site.Now I don't let tenants give me a list of demands.If the fridge is old but working,stove,stove hood,or a part goes out we replace the old part to fix.

We DO NOT meet cosmetic demands from the tenant.They have to pay and do that themselves if they want a plusher carpet,designer paint etc.

Originally posted by Lynn M.:

Are you afraid that they just let the problem worsen until it's over the amount you set or they just don't know the difference between a small repair and something major?

We used to do something similar, $30 limit, until we had a tenant who knew the hot water heater was leaking slightly but didn't notify until it gave out as she thought she would have to pay to repair the leak herself as it didn't look that bad to her. Flooded through wall to den and ruined the carpet/padding, etc., all so she could avoid a possible small repair bill that she wouldn't have been responsible for in any case had she just notified us.

Now I just make sure it's in lease that they know they're responsible for light bulbs and batteries (amazed at how many think I'm coming over to change a light bulb for them due to prior apartment living.) When they call for small things like toilet seats, even window screen repair, I have the option of telling them to send the receipt for the parts if I trust them to handle it and deduct it from the next rent.

Lynn, in the standard contracts that I use in California it states that if a problem is caused because the tenant neglects to report it in a timely manner than it becomes the tenant's responsibility. This is something you should verbally mention to every new tenant. Also, I would add that I check in with my tenants every so often and ask if everything is alright and in working order. Good communication is also a key factor.

Originally posted by Ty Joseph:

Lynn, in the standard contracts that I use in California it states that if a problem is caused because the tenant neglects to report it in a timely manner than it becomes the tenant's responsibility. This is something you should verbally mention to every new tenant. Also, I would add that I check in with my tenants every so often and ask if everything is alright and in working order. Good communication is also a key factor.

Ty, I thought this was a good plan as well -- like I said, used it in my leases & worked well in most circumstances. Always have very open dialogue with tenants, but I found that people paying $700 rent don't like the thought of paying an extra $30 and will simply avoid it. I feel if I had not had that clause, she would have called to complain immediately. A tenant called last year to let me know valve at bottom of water heater was leaking, and I had it repaired same day, didn't even need replacement, and I like that situation much better. Just happier now knowing they have no reason to NOT report something.

Also have found that reality is it doesn't matter what the lease says about it being their responsibility when all the courts do, at least in Virginia where this happened, is issue a judgment. Might be different in California. Pretty much found the security deposit is all you should count on actually recovering.

Wow, this thread has expanded quite a bit..lots of good stuff! A couple of thoughts:

--->Lynn, in the standard contracts that I use in California it states that if a problem is caused because the tenant neglects to report it in a timely manner than it becomes the tenant's responsibility <------

This is a great observation. The biggest challenges remain. Is the judge really going to award you the full damages? In California of all states? Also, should you be lucky enough to get them, then you still are going to have to try and collect, which in many cases is impossible.

The most successful landlord I know says "be right or be rich."

To me, being rich means absorbing the cost asap and avoiding the major cash outlay and repair. A dispute like this with a resident is an event that would likely cause them to move, either over disputing about responsibility for damages, etc. Just not worth it for me. In some cases, I provide massive incentives for tenants to re-up. Factored into a 1 month lease, the expense can be offset in many cases.

Lynn: I totally agree that residents paying 6-700 a month really despise the thought of covering repair costs too. To me it's understandable.

For the psychos that want to complain about everything, whether broken or not - been down that road one time (too many). My lease states that for any 3rd repair (or more) / repair request in a 30 day period that the resident will be responsible for a $25 deductible, payable at the door, before (payable to) the repair person or manager enters to begin work. I have to explain the reason for this to every tenant and we usually laugh and I get the "oh, wow, people are like that?" response from them.