Broken Toilet Seat: Is the Tenant or Landlord Responsible?

A lot of things can suddenly malfunction or break in a rental property. Who has to pay for repairs is sometimes not very clear, like when a toilet seat breaks. Is the tenant or landlord liable?

Responsibility for a broken toilet seat depends on the circumstances of the matter. Usually, if the tenant broke the seat—intentionally or unintentionally—then they are to blame. But the landlord should pay if the seat breaks from age or routine use.

In this article, we will provide details about who should incur payment for a broken toilet seat.

Who Is Responsible for a Broken Toilet Seat?

What the law has to say about who pays for a broken toilet seat varies from state to state. Some states expect the landlord to pay in most situations, while it is the other way around in others. In most states, legal responsibility depends on how the seat broke.

For example, in New Jersey, who pays for a broken toilet seat depends on what led to it being broken. A landlord has to foot the bill for a new seat if it was broken due to common wear.

If, on the other hand, the tenant broke the toilet because of an accident or misuse, it becomes the tenant’s responsibility.

In Massachusetts, a landlord may deduct the price of a broken seat from the tenant’s security deposit to cover costs and additional damage. This should be done in compliance with strict security deposit laws. 

Among other things, the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of the actual damages in question and an estimate of repairs.

The actual cost of damages caused is not usually enough to fight a legal battle over, so these types of cases are seldom seen. On top of that, proving whether the toilet broke through normal usage or misuse can be next to impossible. 

Even though many attorneys will gladly take your money to fight such a case, it makes more sense to just buy a new seat and install it in a matter of minutes.

What Should You Do as a Tenant?

As a tenant, it is understandable to be frustrated when something unexpectedly breaks, especially if you have not lived in the house or apartment very long. Some things are clearly the landlord’s responsibility, such as the plumbing or heating, but others are not so clear.

One thing you should consider when deciding to talk to the landlord about a new toilet seat is how much it costs. Toilet seats are relatively cheap and can be installed easily. A quick video can show you how, even if you are not used to doing such things.

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Arguably, most people would not even mention a broken toilet seat to their landlord but just replace it instead. This would be the easiest solution to your dilemma.

If you opt to go to court, prepare for a short yet tedious legal battle.

What Should You Do as a Landlord?

Broken appliances is one of the most common problems landlords face as a property owner.

If your tenant approaches you demanding a new toilet seat because the current one was broken, you can either decide to replace it or not. The right choice depends on how the toilet seat broke and your goodwill towards the tenant.

If you believe that the tenant is not to blame for the broken toilet seat, it is best to just replace it. This will show your good intentions and keep things friendly as they should be.

However, if you believe the tenant is to blame, you might want to point out that they should pay for the damage. Keep in mind that doing this can lead to hassles, including going to court.

Should I Leave the Toilet Seat Broken?

Most often, when a toilet seat breaks, it does not do so in one quick action unless there is some sort of an accident. Usually, seats begin to show small cracks, which get bigger over time until the whole seat breaks.

Even though it is not typically an immediate emergency, you should not leave a toilet seat cracked or broken because it can give way and cause injuries to those who sit on it.

Some of the worst home accidents happen in bathrooms. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that about a quarter of a million bathroom accidents occur every year. 

A high percentage of those accidents happen while people use the bathroom and result in injuries.

How to Replace Broken Toilet Seat

Whether you are the tenant or the landlord, replacing a broken seat should be a priority. A handyperson or plumber will gladly do this for you, but if you want to do it yourself, here are a few simple steps:

·        Purchase a high-quality toilet seat at a hardware store. If you are unsure of the seat size, just measure from the bolts on your toilet to the front.

·        Using a wrench and a screwdriver, take off the broken toilet seat. You might just need one of these tools, depending on what toilet you have. You might see caps that contain screws or bolts beneath the edge. Use WD-40 to loosen the bolts or screws off if they seem stuck.

· The new toilet seat should include everything that you need to install it, including bolts, screws, and plastic covers. Once you have the old seat off, install the new seat by placing it where the other one was and fastening the bolts or screws.

Conclusion – Broken Toilet Seat: Landlord or Tenant’s Problem?

A broken toilet seat should be replaced as soon as possible. Whether the tenant or landlord should do this typically depends on whether it was intentional damage or not. 

Considering that seats are not expensive at all, most tenants in rental units just do this themselves, and the landlord never even hears about it, which is probably best for everyone.