The 10 Most Common Rental Property Repairs (and How to Deal With Them!)


As much as I wish rental properties stayed in tip top shape forever, this just is not the case.

As a landlord, one of your most important jobs is to maintain the property and fix things when they break. Although this can be expensive and stressful, if you budget and plan for repairs and maintenance, you will have money set aside to handle these issues. If not, you’ll need to come out with the cost from your own pocket.

But either way, the repair must be fixed.

Although repairs tend to scare new landlords, in reality most repair issues are fairly standard and easy to fix. In fact, I’ve found that 95% of the repair issues I must address are the same ten repairs, over and over again. Although you cannot predict when these issues will occur, you can predict that they indeed will.

So I give you: my 10 most common repairs and how to address them (in no particular order!).

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The 10 Most Common Tenant Repair Requests

1. Appliances Not Working


Appliances have a lot of moving parts and as such tend to break down fairly often. Although some issues can be fixed by the landlord themselves (a burned-out light bulb, a new heating element needed), many issues will need a qualified appliance repair person.

Related: 4 Common Maintenance & Repair Mistakes Property Managers Make

Unless a new appliance is needed, the typical cost to fix is between $50 and $100 per hour, and most repairs can be handled in one hour. If you do need a new appliance, consider buying a used one. Used appliance stores exist in almost every town, and especially in the case of stoves, can be just as good as new. (Caveat: I never buy used dishwashers.)

2. Water Leak in Ceiling or Under Windows

Water may be required for the human body to survive, but it’s deadly to a rental property.

If left unchecked, water can destroy wood, drywall, flooring, and virtually every other surface of your property. Even in small amounts, moisture can cause mold to grow, which can be expensive to remediate if it gets out of control. When your tenant reports a water problem, make this your #1 concern!

Hire a qualified contractor to check out the problem and fix it immediately. When it comes to water leaks, don’t hire the cheapest guy; hire the best. It’s also a good idea to know if your property has water supply lines in the ceiling, so if there is a leak, you can call a plumber instead of a roofing contractor.

3. Water Leak Under Sink

A water leak under a kitchen or bathroom sink can have one of two causes: the supply line (the pipe that brings water to the sink, both hot and cold) or the drain (the white drain that takes the water from the sink and sends it out to the sewer).

I would estimate that 90% of the water leaks under a sink are caused by the drain pipe not fitting together correctly. This is a fairly easy task for you to learn how to fix (watch some YouTube videos to learn how), or hire a plumber, who should charge you around $100 for this job.

4. Water Drip From Faucets

A slow drip from a sink or bathroom can end up costing you hundreds of dollars per year. Therefore, if you have a slow drip, get it fixed right away. In most cases, the problem can be solved with a $.50 rubber washer and about an hour of work from a plumber (or yourself).

However, occasionally the entire faucet will need to be replaced. If this is the case, don’t buy the $18 faucet that is mostly plastic. You’ll be tearing it out next summer and replacing it again. And again. And again.

5. No Hot Water

If the tenant loses their hot water, it’s likely a problem with their hot water heater. If they need a new hot water heater, you’ll spend around $600 for a plumber to replace it.

However, it might just be the heating element inside the heater, in which case you can either replace it yourself for $20 and a couple hours’ of work, or hire a plumber for a couple hundred bucks to do it for you.

6. Bugs/Rodents

Dealing with pests can be one of the most annoying jobs for a landlord because much of the time it’s the tenant’s own fault because they are dirty! Bugs and rodents like crumbs, so tenants with clean houses rarely have a problem. That said, it’s still your responsibility to make sure that any infestation is taken care of.

We tackle this issue on two fronts: educating the tenant AND hiring a pest specialist to deal with the issue, typically costing a few hundred dollars. Also be sure to seal up any holes, no matter how small, that bugs or rodents could be using to get into the property.

7. Garbage Disposals

These things may be great for grinding away food that is put down the sink, but they are a constant thorn in the side of landlords. They break all the time! I believe this is mostly due to tenants putting things into them that never belong in a garbage disposal. (“I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to put whole chicken bones down there!”) For this reason, I try to remove garbage disposals from my properties when possible.

However, if your garbage disposal breaks while a tenant is in the property and you need to fix it, there are generally two things that could be wrong. First, it might just be “stuck” and need an allen wrench to unstick it. Or the motor might be burned out, and you’ll need a new disposal, which might run a couple hundred bucks including installation from a handyman.

8. Toilet Running

Toilets may be made of long-lasting porcelain, but the tank parts are generally cheap pieces of plastic that break all the time. If the toilet is running (water can be heard going through it 24-7, or the tank re-fills with water on its own every so often), it’s most likely a problem with the flapper. Typically, these kind of problems can be fixed with less than $20 of parts and an hour of labor from a plumber or yourself. (Again, watch a YouTube video and you’ll learn everything you need to fix the “guts” of a toilet… if that’s something you want to tackle on your own.)

9. Clogged Toilet

If your tenant clogs their toilet, this is NOT your responsibility to fix.

Related: How to Accurately Estimate Expenses on a Rental Property in 3 Easy Steps

Problems that are caused by the tenant are the tenant’s responsibility, so let them call a plumber to deal with the issue. Or call a plumber yourself and bill the tenant for the cost. However, if the drains seem to be clogged in the bathtub or bathroom sink as well, this is a good indication that the problem may lie with your drain pipe, such as a collapsed pipe or a tree root that has grown through it. (I once had a property where someone flushed huge rocks down the toilet! This caused a major problem for me — and a hefty plumber’s bill!)

10. Furnace Repairs

Heat is vital, so a furnace repair (especially during the winter) is one of the most important repairs on this list. If your furnace goes out, it could be something as simple as the pilot light going out or something as complicated as a gas leak. When your tenant calls, get a furnace repair specialist out to the property immediately.

Also, many furnace problems would have never happened had the furnace filter been replaced often, so be sure your tenant knows how and when to do this.

You’ll likely encounter more problems than just what I’ve listed here while owning rental properties, but these ten items will likely represent 95% of the issues you’ll face.

None of them by themselves are that expensive to fix.

However, if left untreated, each of these can end up costing you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Treat each of these items with care and get them fixed immediately. Your tenant — and your wallet — will thank you.

So what about you? What have been your top repairs? Have you encountered common repairs different than what I’ve listed here?

Let me know by leaving a comment below this post!


[AndreasS], ShellyS, Scott Akerman, Jeremy Kunz, Risto Kuulasmaa, Joe Shlabotnik, Miguel Tejada-Flores, Henry Stern, Martin Cathrae

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.


  1. Bracha Pushkin

    Great article, Brandon. Thank you for sharing this valuable knowledge.

    I was wondering, if one does not use the services of a property manager (which, of course, will handle these types of issues), is there any type of insurance coverage and/or 24/7 “handyman” service that, for a monthly fee, will fix these issues if and when they turn up? If so, what would be the type of insurance that would provide such coverage and what type of professional services should I be looking for, in order to provide this type of service?

  2. Randy E.

    Thanks for listing all those, Brandon. It’s always a good idea to be reminded of the usual suspects.

    On a side note, I have a line in my lease that specifies the tenant is financially responsible for any toilet clogs. I highlight the line and it’s one of the clauses I make sure to point out to new tenants.

  3. Brandon Stevens

    Most importantly…find contractors u can trust. Especially when it comes to the larger systems in a house. Most of us are guilty of using the cheapest person we could find starting out and subsequently regretting that decision. Piece of mind is worth much more than the $50 you think you just saved finding someone on craigslist….

  4. I have added a clause to my lease stating that tenants are responsible for unclogging drains and fixing broken windows. My unwritten policy is that I will pay to unclog it once, then I get a bill from my very trusted drain guy who always spells out what caused the problem. If it is tree roots, then that is my problem. If it is flushed diapers, then I forward a copy to the tenant stating that there were diapers found and removed from the drain.
    I tell them that since they may have been there when they moved in, I will not charge them this time. However, if the problem happens again that they will be responsible for the bill. The funniest one was the time the drain report said that he removed hundreds of condoms which had caught on some tree roots creating a clog. My married tenant with 4 kids said that she and her husband never used condoms (thus the 4 kids), so they knew that problem would not happen again!

  5. Allen Sproul

    We have dealt with most of these in our rental. We live in Utah, so the evaporative cooler is another one. We get tenants saying it is not getting cold enough during the summer. We have created an educational packet about heating and cooling for our tenants so they understand that when it is 100 outside, the coolest a cooler will get is about 75. We then recommend a couple of “staying cool” tips, like turning off computers in bedrooms and using a fan to circulate the air.

  6. You definitely hit the major ones.

    I almost always buy new appliances, call Lowe’s and get delivery and haul away. For the most part, if I need a repair guy, the appliance is not worth repairing.

    Get rid of garbage disposals. They are only problematic.

    Swap the kitchen faucet, and fix it off site. Or toss it. A $75 kitchen faucet, or $60 vanity faucet, cannot be repaired by a plumber and be cost effective.

    And definitely have a plumbers phone number on hand to refer the tenants to if the toilet clogs. If the toilet clogs frequently, it may be a toy or pencil in it. That is a bit more tricky to ‘fix’.

  7. James L.

    I recommend new water shut off valves under sinks and toilets. It’s easier to have a tenant turn it off till the morning if they work. I got a call ,supply line was spraying water at 9 pm under the kitchen sink. Shut off valve was seized. So instead of dealing with it in the morning. 10pm I’m shutting off the water and mopping the kitchen. The whole kitchen,

  8. Jason Miller

    Tenants get a pass for the 1st two weeks on clogs. Anything after that it is their cost. Same goes for bugs.

    Some other ways to prevent bug issues is to have in the move-in checklist items not allowed. Cloths in trashbags, piled dishes in sinks, food on floors etc. When you do an inspection and find these items, tell them you will be back in 1 week to do a safe and clean inspection. If they fail, time to evict. Have it written in the lease. You can catch this prior to letting that tenant in by simply looking at their car. If the car is dirty, they live dirty in most cases. Dirty is not a protected class yet.

  9. Deanna Opgenort

    I ended up with a leaky toilet in my home that is worth mentioning. Toilet was doing the few seconds on/15 off/few seconds on, etc.
    “no problem!” thinks I –” I’ll replace the flapper, & be done. 5 minute job!” Replaced the flapper —on/off…on/off….no change.
    “Darn!” thinks I “Must be the seat in the tank. Isn’t it lucky I have the retrofit part!” Quick fix….but again, on/off – no change.
    “ARGH!” thinks I “What the HECK is going on with that thing!”
    In desperation consult that almight oracle – youtube. Come across a tiny note that SOMETIMES it is the valve, that is a bit faulty and lets water siphon from the tank via the tube that goes from the fill valve into the tube that drains into tank.
    Pulled the 1/4″ fill tube out of the filler tube and …no leaking! Hoorah! Just reset the tube above water line. Not “correct”, but fixed the problem.

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