Resolving the issue of who is responsible for the landlord or tenant is a common source of frustration. It is worse when there are repeated calls to deal with regarding a plugged toilet– especially in the middle of the night! So, ultimately, who is responsible for this problem? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. It depends on the situation.
Generally, if the plug is caused by the tenant or due to negligence, it is the tenant’s responsibility because they created the situation. If a sewer overflow results from a tree root pressing into the water line or from rusty pipes, the landlord needs to take care of it.
A good tip is to add a clause to the lease outlining that tenants will pay for the repairs for any damages they cause due to negligence and misuse. Landlords can then add repair costs to what the tenant owes.
If two properties share a sewer line, the fault may be difficult to determine. If it is due to pipes or wear and tear in the plumbing, the landlord is responsible for the repair. However, there are cases where tenants either cause or are responsible for causing something to break.
If a landlord determines that the problem resulted from negligence and who is at fault, they can charge the tenant. Otherwise, it may be a cost that the landlord must pay.
What if the Property is a Condo?
Before calling a plumber, check with the condo/townhome Homeowner Association to ensure they are not responsible for plumbing blockages past the condo walls.
Make a call to the property management company and inquire. If it falls under their responsibility, they will repair it.
If the blockage is within the condo walls, then the landlord may need to repair it. Again, if it is the tenant’s fault, they are responsible.
The landlord should discover these problems after the property is purchased and before renting. You need to know whose responsibility it is for plumbing repairs and how to stop the water.
What if There is a Septic Tank?
If all toilets are overflowing, call a plumber who specializes in septic tanks. Deal with the situation immediately. Toilets can overflow for several reasons, and sometimes experts don’t agree on why. If the tank was pumped two years ago, a problem with the drain field may be the cause, or it could be heavy rain.
Flushing food, grease, coffee grinds, oil, bleach, and drain cleaners can ruin septic tanks. Proving a tenant was at fault is tricky because there are so many variables. Instead, choose to educate the person before moving in on dealing with a septic tank. Remove the garbage disposal if necessary.
Toilets overflowing due to septic tanks occur so frequently, and the costs are so expensive that landlords often add plumbing addendums to the lease. They outline responsibilities for each person and how to maintain the system.
Who is Responsible for Cleaning Raw Sewage Outflow?
It depends on who is responsible for the problem. Septic companies can pump it out, and landlords should contact them if it occurs. Landlords should then contact a business that deals with sewage clean-up to make sure that it is completely cleaned.
When is a Clogged Toilet Classified as an Emergency?
If there is only one toilet available, and it is clogged, it is an emergency. All toilets in a property are overflowing, and clogged is classified as an emergency. The mainline may be blocked.
If only one toilet is clogged, yet there is another one to use, it is not an emergency.
To eliminate ambiguity, a welcome letter should be given to tenants outlining what constitutes an emergency and what does not. Landlords can take things a step further and create a tenant maintenance kit. This will decrease the number of calls received for maintenance.
The kit should contain:
- Cleaning vinegar for air conditioning drains
- Garbage disposal wrench
- 12 air conditioning filters
- Clog removal tool
- Sink plunger
- Long pole for replacing light bulbs
- Toilet plunger
Outlining the rules and responsibilities is less stressful than dealing with things as they occur. When people understand what is expected and the results, they are less surprised by repair charges because things were previously outlined.
Who is Liable for Blocked Drains?
Landlords are responsible for making sure rental properties are suitable to live in. Cleanliness isn’t the only factor to consider. Landlords must keep the plumbing and drainage systems in good working order as well.
Once the person moves in, landlords are responsible for ensuring the property is reasonably maintained, which refers to plumbing systems.
Therefore, it’s important to outline whose responsibility it is to pay for repairs in the tenancy agreement. Urgent repairs like pipes bursting, major leaking, and flooding are the landlord’s responsibility.
If this happens, tenants need to have your contact information or the property manager’s information so they can call immediately. Flooding can ruin their possessions and needs to be addressed immediately.
Landlords are expected to pay when the problem is due to wear and tear or negligence.
Tenants are responsible for paying if they cause any damage to the property. Tenants are obligated to address any minor household needs. Tenants should pay for repairs if they were intentionally putting huge pieces of food down a toilet – whether they knew a clog would result or not- because they were the ones that caused it to malfunction.
How Often Should a Landlord Replace a Bathroom?
For a top-end rental, landlords should replace the bathroom every five to eight years. In a mid-market establishment, it’s eight to twelve years. On the low end, every 12-20 years.
If they are functioning well and there are no issues, they may not need replacing. Some fixtures last forever.
In determining who is responsible for paying for a clogged toilet, landlords must first determine who was at fault and reference their tenancy agreement. Agreements are useful to have in place as they outline what is expected from each party.
If the landlord can identify that it was due to the negligence of the tenant, then the tenant pays. For general household issues, payment is left up to the landlord. If there is ambiguity, the landlord should pay as no one can be identified as the cause.