Who is responsible for blocked drains in a rental?

February 15, 2021

Image Credit: Unsplash

If you have an emergency in a rental property, the question is often raised who is to blame — the tenant or the landlord. The answer can be costly for the responsible party. To find out who is responsible we have pulled together the essential information, so both parties have a clear answer based on a few situations.

Who is at fault when there is a blocked drain at a rental property?

The fact of the matter is, the landlord has quite a few responsibilities for the property including keeping the property maintained, in good condition, and regularly repaired as needed. While this is the landlords’ responsibility, many landlords choose to delegate the work to a property manager or invest in property management software to keep ahead of issues.

On the other hand, the tenant needs to take care of the property as well, and any malicious damage that is outside of the ‘wear and tear’ scope could be the responsibility of the tenant.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

The landlord must ensure that the property is in a reasonable state of repair. You can find the relating regulations and rules in your tenancy agreement, or you can ask for a copy of the entrance report to ensure the condition report states any issues and outlines the fair and reasonable condition of the property.

Landlords need to cover the repair, maintenance, and upkeep of leaking pipes, broken toilets or sinks, pipe blockages, and burst pipes.

Tenant’s Responsibilities

The tenant should be responsible for anything that has been maliciously damaged or misused at the property. If there is something that is not considered wear and tear that is damaged, this could fall into the tenant’s hands.

It’s important to note that a tenant will need to contact a licensed and insured plumber in an emergency, and information will be provided in a tenancy agreement. The tenant is responsible for ensuring an emergency such as a blocked pipe or burst pipe is attended to as soon as possible.

Having renters’ insurance as a tenant can help to mitigate the burden of any financial emergencies that are not required to be fixed by the landlord.

Circumstances Dictate Responsibility

At the end of the day, it can be a murky area when asking tenants and landlords to cover the cost of plumbing. To ensure the information is clear, a quick check of state real estate laws or checking with a real estate law specialist is a simple way to get some clarity.

Tenancy and real estate complaint information can easily be found online, and if a tenant or landlord believes there is an issue or one party is not responsible, further action could be required to finalize the situation.

Blocked drains and emergency plumbing can be a nightmare, and if you want to ensure you have a fair and reasonable agreement in place for both tenant and landlord, ensure you check the state or territory rental authority to ensure you are aware of your rights.

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