If a tenant’s children flushed wipes down a toilet causing $2,000 in damage who is responsible is the question this week for veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi.
Dear Landlord Hank:
My tenant had kids over and flushed wipes down a toilet that led to a major plumbing incident in my rental. I had to pay $2, 000 for the repair. He also told me last week that he lost his job. What do I do? He paid for the month of November. What do I do come December 1st when he cannot pay? I live in Washington State.
Dear Landlady Laura,
If you already know, and the plumber confirmed, that the blockage and plumbing expenses were caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests or invitees, then your lease should clearly state that the expense for the repair would be borne by the tenant.
Or, that the landlord, at your discretion, may make the repair, and the tenant be fully responsible for the payment of the repair due to the kids flushing wipes down the toilet.
If the tenant can’t pay for the damage caused by flushed wipes down a toilet, he would be in default of your lease.
If you already know he has lost his job, I’d talk to him and tell him he’ll need to move immediately. You will use his security deposit to cover the damage that he caused, but to keep from being evicted, you will re-rent the property and he’ll no longer be liable for the balance of his lease.
I’m not knowledgeable about Washington State landlord/tenant laws, but you may need to evict.
I’d would try to be reasonable and show him the logic of leaving now before his credit and rental history is damaged.
I know we are moving into the holiday season, but you are running a business. You must keep your charitable self in check. It’s not up to you to pay his bills, including damage to the property and rent.
If you let him stay until December’s rent is due, and he doesn’t pay that either, you will be further in the red.
You may need to get an attorney involved, but you need to have your property back in your hands so you can find a replacement tenant.
Don’t hesitate, and move quickly. Good luck!
Strong leases save us when we’re all on the same page and it’s in writing.
About the author Landlord Hank:
“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc, in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.
Other recent Dear Landlord Hank posts you may have missed:
If A Good Tenant Loses A Job How Long Before You Evict Them?
How Do You Raise Rent For A Long-Time Tenant?
How Do You Know When To Change Property Managers?
Where Do You Draw The Line On Normal Wear And Tear?
Dear Landlord Hank: Do You Conduct Rental Inspections? How Often?