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Holding a Landlord Accountable for Upkeep

Does Your Home Lease Cover Repairs?

A landlord is only responsible for repairs he has promised to make within the four corners of your lease. There is no way to enforce verbal promises, making it even more important to write everything down. A lease is not sacred, meaning that you do not have to accept it as it is written. Prior to signing a lease contract you should read it from beginning to end. If you’re uncomfortable with how few repairs the landlord promises to make, or if he makes no mention of who will be taking care of repairs, make a change to the lease.

It is not uncommon for a lease to include a passage outlining which party is responsible for which repair. For example, the lease may say that you – as the renter – are responsible for repairs costing less than $25 and the landlord is responsible for anything beyond that amount. It may say that you aren’t to attempt any repairs on your own, but should contact him as repairs are needed. It’s also possible that there is no language discussing repairs at all.

If you’ve already signed the lease and moved into the home, you are bound by the contract you signed. If, however, you are moving into a new residence or your lease is up for renewal, you can protect yourself by making additions to any lease you’re asked to sign. Make sure that the new lease includes:

  • A passage that clearly outlines who will be responsible for repairs. If you are willing to take care of simple repairs like replacing an inexpensive light fixture, indicate that fact. The lease should clearly state whether or not you want the landlord to take care of all repairs.
  • The length of time the landlord has to make needed repairs once he has been notified.

Making changes to a lease is no more complicated than writing in the provisions you need at the bottom of the contract and having the landlord sign them.

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