One of the biggest benefits about renting an apartment or house is that tenants are not responsible for the functional aspects of the property. This includes the plumbing. So when a plumbing problem occurs, it’s up to the landlord to maintain the system and fix the problem.

But there are a few differences between plumbing problems that landlords are responsible for, and problems that tenants are responsible for. These are explained below.

What are landlords responsible for exactly?

By law, landlords are required to give tenants a livable home. This means tenants need the basic essentials, like hot water and heat, and there shouldn’t be anything on the property that is a threat to the health or safety of the tenants.

When tenants fill out a rental application, the terms of the lease should clearly list what the landlord is responsible for and what the tenant is responsible for. Generally, landlords are responsible for major problems like broken pipes, which can result in hazards like flooding and mold. Landlords are also responsible for maintaining the plumbing, which could entail regular inspections and cleaning of plumbing systems.

However, landlords are typically not responsible for minor plumbing issues, like a clogged toilet or a dripping faucet. Tenants should take care of these issues themselves or talk to their landlord if they have concerns. If a tenant causes a major problem, like keeping the heat so low that the pipes freeze and burst, then the tenant is responsible for repairs and damages.

But if a tenant’s belongings become damaged from a plumbing problem that landlord should have fixed, the landlord may be responsible for the damages.

Important steps to take

When a tenant notices a major plumbing problem, like a backed up sewer line or a pipe that burst, they should contact their landlord immediately. This is important so that the landlord becomes aware of the issue and has ample time to get it fixed. Landlords should always address major plumbing issues right away, since they’re responsible for ensuring the property is safe for their tenants.

If a plumbing problem arises, tenants should take action and move their belongings away from the problem area and even turn off the water. Taking pictures is always a good idea too, so the problem and damages can be properly documented.

Landlords will generally have a plumber in mind that they can contact to come fix the issue at the property. The problem will be fixed, and landlord will pay for the necessary repairs, and the tenant doesn’t have much to worry about.

However, tenants may also have the option to search for “plumbers near me” and hire someone themselves. Then after the repairs have been made, the cost for the repairs can be deducted from that month’s rent. This is something that should be discussed thoroughly between the landlord and the tenant so everyone is on the same page.

Unfortunately, not all landlords move quickly when a major plumbing issue occurs. If a tenant contacts their landlord about a plumbing problem and it goes unfixed, they may be able to take legal action, withhold rent, or even move out, depending on how bad the issue is. Of course, tenants should always seek legal advice in these situations so they don’t end up making things worse. But living in a house with standing water, flooding, or mold is not safe and it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of it.

Communication is key when it comes to maintaining plumbing and pipes. Whether it’s a regular inspection or a problem arises, tenants and landlords should always have a clear understanding of who is responsible for which plumbing problems.