charges-for-property-repairs-by-landlords

When a landlord in Maryland hires a tenant for his rental unit then he expects a security deposit. The renter pays the security deposit which is the sum of one or two months’ rent.

This serves as means to fix or repair something in the rental premises that occurred due to the tenants.

But, most of the renters have no idea whether they are or the landlord is responsible for repairs. If the security deposit is refundable then why most of the landlords refund only half or a part of the security deposit after eviction or termination of the rental agreement.

Generally, the landlords are responsible for repairs in a rental property. However, some situations are different.

There are certain situations when the landlord may not responsible financially and make a tenant pay for repairs.

Can a landlord make the tenant pay for repairs?

In simple words – Yes! The landlord can make the tenants pay for repairs. But this does not apply to every situation. It’s also important and necessary for the landlords or property owners to keep their tenants happy. And quick repair can do this easily. Not only this will protect their property from damages but, will also keep the tenants staying longer. But, if the landlords prioritize repairs then consider the following: –

  • Any structural damages like damages on walls and ceiling
  • Plumbing or broken pipes issues
  • Short circuit
  • Pest infestation
  • Non-working door locks

Let’s see when and how a landlord can make the tenants pay for repairs.

Maintenance obligations under Landlord-Tenant Law

It is the responsibility of the landlord or owner to keep the property well-maintained and make sure the property meets habitability standards. This means they must provide the property in good condition with access to running water and heat in the winter, all the appliances should be in working condition and must be free from pest infestation.

It’s also the duty and responsibility of the tenants under state landlord-tenant laws to keep the property well-maintained in the same condition the landlord has handover them. The tenants should keep everything in good condition like plumbing fixtures, and appliances should be clean and in good condition, no pilling up the trash.

Apart from these, the tenant may also agree to additional maintenance responsibilities in the lease agreement, which include cutting the grass, cleaning out the gutters, etc. And when the tenant neglects to do these works and any damages occur during the process then he or she could be responsible for any needed repairs.

Tenant responsibility

Tenants are indeed responsible for small maintenance issues. So, there are a few common things any homeowner or landlord should expect to be responsible for like replacing the batteries in smoke detectors, changing the bulbs, etc.

Tenants are not supposed to pay for normal wear and tear on the property. But if you are not attentive and taking care of the property then they are responsible for any repairs that occurred due to their negligence.

Besides, a tenant would responsible for any repairs that occurred due to abuse or deliberate destruction. Flushing diapers down the toilet is an example of this, which can be resulted in a sewer line backing up. Examples of destructive damages would be anything intentionally done by the tenant. For ex- the tenant has kicked the entrance door just because he lost or forgot his keys. The damage wouldn’t have happened if the tenant had not caused it.

Actions of any guests

If the tenants have invited any guests onto the property then he will responsible for any damages caused by the guests. If your guest will create damage at your rental property then you will be financially responsible for having the repair completed.

So, it is simply that being a tenant you are somehow responsible and not responsible for repairs, that simply depends on the situation.

No matter whether you stay in your own house or rented property, things will break, malfunction, and wear out. You will have to pay for repairs if you the homeowner. But, when you stay in a rental property then you are not always responsible for repairs. It’s simple that if you break anything then you will pay for the repair and if something because of old age or any other reason breaks then the landlord is responsible for repair.

But, before you call your landlord for the maintenance or repair issue, consider who is responsible for those repairs.

Check the lease agreement

Before you all the landlord or property manager for repair for a leaking faucet, you should read the rental or lease agreement. Before you decide whether you are responsible or not for the damage, check your lease agreement because most of the contract discusses which repairs are the landlord’s responsibility and which may be yours.

For ex- Samantha, the professional writer and also rental property owner in Maryland has already mentioned in her lease agreement to noting the tenants that they are responsible for all the repairs less than $50 or less. Anything costlier than this will be her responsibility until and unless the tenants and their guests have not caused the damage to the rental property.

Is it a big deal?

If you have read the lease agreement and didn’t find anything that who’s responsible for repair then consider whether the problem is a big deal or minor. If you think the problem is minor and can be fixed you then do not waste your time and get it fixed as soon as possible.

For ex- if your pet has damaged the window blinds then it isn’t a big deal to fix it. Also, you are only responsible for the repair because your pet has caused it. But, if your main door won’t lock properly then it’s your landlord’s responsibility to get it fixed.

You can send a written request for repair to your landlord. But, make sure to use it sparingly as no landlords like to hear again and again from the same tenant for minor concerns.

How to Know If You’re Responsible for Repairs?

Check the state’s law

You know that different states have different laws. So, you should check your state’s law when you are unable to know who’s responsible for the repair. if you are residing in the United States It is said that the tenants have the right to live in livable condition property. A functional heat system is required and if it’s broken down the owner will repair it.

Washington takes it even further, the landlord cannot ask the tenants to repair until and unless the tenants and their guests have caused them.

If the repair issue is difficult or costly, then consider your state’s law to know who will be responsible for the repair.

Do what you can

If you think there is a minor repair issue then you can fix it by yourself. In fact, few things are usually easier to deal with by yourself than to call the landlord for minor annoyance. 

If only a screw is missing from the deadbolt hardware, you can easily replace it by yourself. There’s no need to contact your landlord. You can also clean the stain on a carpet. But, if there are mold and a wet sagging port on the bathroom ceiling then you will report this to your landlord as soon as possible before things get worse.

What is your responsibility?

Certain maintenance and repair issues are always your responsibility such as replacing light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors. You should also keep the appliances well-maintained and in working condition even if it’s the landlord’s belonging.

You must treat the place like your own house, keep it in a neat and clean condition as much as possible.  And if you will not keep the property in the same condition when you will move out then the landlord has the right to deduct the repair and maintenance costs from the security deposit.

What not to do?

You may have the skills of a general contractor, yet you should try to do major repairs by yourself in the rental property in Maryland with your landlord’s consent. Patching a nail hole in a wall and repainting is acceptable, but if repainting the wall entirely with a new color will not be acceptable. Without your landlord’s permission, you must not do anything in the rental unit. Do not make any repairs that do not match your landlord’s standards.

Conclusion

So, yes the landlords can charge you for repairs, but only in certain cases. It is suggested to read the lease agreement carefully before signing.

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