Lease clause needed - Tenant responsible for repairs < $50

I’m looking to upgrade our lease documents and wish to include a clause in there where the tenant is responsible for minor repairs to a property for costs < $50. We have one tenant who is abusing the right to have maintenance work done on their place and its driving us nuts.

If anyone has this in their lease, could you do me a favor and cut & paste the clause so I may be able to use it?


Going to be hard to get him to sign a lease amendment that gives him LESS rights. Would be good to put in future documents. You should check your local laws though as I believe in most areas the landlord is responsible for ALL repairs regardless of what you lease says, I think the people that are getting away with making tenants do it are only doing so because their tenants don’t know better.

This is for new leases - not to retrofit old.

Its common practice for this sort of thing to be written into leases here. The problem is that without it, tenants have the capacity to treat landlords like the reception desk of The Ritz Carlton hotel (i.e. they think they can ask for anything).

I’ve had one tenant lock themselves out of their place, and expect us to fund a locksmith to get them back in. The next day, their kid pulled the towel rail off the wall and they called us to have our maintenance guy go there to put it back on. Then the following day they did it again. Next they are saying that the front door is jamming ‘a little bit’ and they want our maintenance guy to go out there yet again for that. Its summer here in Phoenix - things expand in the heat. When it gets cooler, they’ll call back in to say the door is too loose…

We need tried and proven techniques to thwart this kind of abuse of the lease, and getting them to pay for petty things tends to do the trick. I agree that it may not be in specific conformance with real estate laws, however it is common practice and I’ll be happy to pay for things if the tenant wishes to challenge in a court.


It still may be against the law to expect tenants to do repairs. What does your lease say regarding the cost of lockouts? As for the towelbar I’d be sure to take that out of the security deposit and let them know you are going to do it.

In the state of AZ (where these properties are), there are no specific statutes regarding lockouts - only about landlords not being able to lock a tenant out of a property while they have a valid lease. In our lease, we have a clause that has a fee for this, including a fee for any of our staff to visit a unit to unlock it. In this particular case, however, the lock was on the inside of the building (one of those lockable bedroom doors), and it must have been fitted by a previous tenant, and we were not aware of it nor did we have the key for it. We ended up paying for a locksmith to go in there, and to replace the door with a non-lockable one so the problem would never happen again.

I thought that was the end of it with this tenant, however it appears that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. This tenant is ‘high maintenance’ and expects everything for nothing. Clearly not one we are going to renew the lease on when it comes up for renewal unless they can calm down their maintenance requests.


Rich is absolutely right, the law in most states requires the owner to maintain the property in the proper condition. Putting something to the contrary in your lease will be used against you when the problem tenant gets a scumbag free legal aid lawyer to fight you in court. No point in shooting yourself in the foot.

I would also suggest that you consider putting all low income and otherwise iffy tenants on a month to month lease. I only sign longer leases with our higher income tenants in our nicer SFHs.


OK, I hear ya. So let me rephrase the question…

Keeping in mind legal requirements, what other techniques can landlords use to send a clear message to tenants that they won’t be taken advantage of when it comes to maintenance issues on properties?

I’m thinking unless it is a true emergency, have at least a 72 hour response time so that tenants don’t get the message that you are willing to respond to just about any little request

I have found over the years that its important to ‘train’ my tenants. That is they get into mindsets of expectations based on the actions from us that they see. If they see a highly responsive, always available landlord, many will misinterpret the role of the landlord and start to call with things completely unrelated to tenancy issues (such as neighbor disputes, gossip, etc.).

Have others found this sort of thing?


My lease for SFH calls orignally called for tenants to handle repairs up to $100.00 and since raised to $200.00 I don’t have this provision for the 2 and 3 families apartment units.

For SFH, it’s rented at below market, $200/month below, now almost $500 below as rents had gone up, and tenants know that and tell me it’s cheap. So when I tell them part of the deal is to handle repairs up to $200.00, none have issues with it for the last 23 years.

But if anyone comes to me to say “but the law says you got to handle this…”, then the reply would be “that’s unfortunate, I was hoping that I can give you a good rent of $2000/month, which currently is $2,500, a nice break by the way, so when the lease renews four months from now, it’ll go up to the market rate of $2,500, and we’ll pay a PM to handle things that the law says should be handled”.

Actually, had a conversation like this with a tenant once.

In the case of the multi, I once had a tenant whose mom moved in (actually he called it visiting). Appears she’s got nothing better to do than to find loose door knobs, dripping faucets, magnetic catches on kitchen cabinet doors that don’t quite catch if you slam it. About three calls a week.

After the fifth complaint in 10 days, I told the tenant the below market rent he’s paying is for good paying tenants being able to tighten screws on door knobs themselves, and I usually give preference to handy tenants, such as this one, who is a mechanic owning his gas station. My exact words were “I was hoping a mechanic should be able to manage a screwdriver”. At the time, market rents was $1,000, I charged this guy $900, and I told him the rent would be raised to $1,150, on lease renewal, in view of the high maintenance involved.

He replied that these are not “brand new units”. I said even brand new units need some attention, but if he needed this type of attention, his needs are better served moving to brand new high rise condo units, with “on site” management. I went on to tell him my renters want to cozinness of a small property, and in return for a lower rent, is expected to tighten door knobs, change a washer on the faucet themselves". In this world “you get what you pay for”

How did things turn out.

At the end of the conversation, he said “Mr. Chin, you’re right, your rent is very reasonable, and I’ll tell my mom not to call you anymore, and I’ll make sure I’ll take care of these little odds and ends”.


Yes, I agree with you. You should not be at the tenant fingertips for every little thing - especially if they cause the problem. In fact, your lease should say that the tenant is responsible for all damage cause by the tenant, his invitees, or guests. There is a big difference between maintaining the property and fixing damage caused by the tenant. I will gladly maintain the property - I will NOT fix damage caused by the tenant.

As an example, one of my tenants has two children that are absolutely little terrorists. They live in my lowest income apartment building. The woman is FILTHY and so are her kids. She has two boyfriends. When her shack-up boyfriend recently found out about the other boyfriend, he threw a brick through the picture window of her apartment. She called me about it. I asked her why she was calling me. She broke it and she was fixing it before the next month’s rent or I would evict her. She had it fixed ($400). Then, last month, she called to say that her toilet was stopped up. The kids had jammed toys in the toilet. Again, not my problem. Her shack-up boyfriend removed the toilet over a month ago and she’s not even staying there (although she’s still paying rent). She’s now gotten a new toilet but hasn’t gotten a plumber to install it yet.

The point is that I’m not playing games with this (or any other) tenant. If there are legitimate maintenance issues, I will gladly fix them. I will not fix damage caused by the tenant or her terrorist children.


Thanks for the input, guys. I think our situation is very similar to Frank’s, but we are getting these problems in the higher priced units - not the cheaper ones (well keep in mind we don’t buy units that we charge more than $1000 a month for - that’s not our marketplace).

With our < $700 a month units (normally units in 4 plexes), we don’t get these problems. Those tenants seem to be used to dealing with minor issues themselves. We typically deal with building issues such as plumbing, roof, etc. there most of the time.

We also have > $800 a month condos that are part of HOAs. Those are the units that these tenants feel they can abuse the maintenance. We’re not talking brand new, hotel style accomodation here. These are just nice condos in decent complexes. But because of the HOA fees, we make less money on these units, but they tend to appreciate a little better.

With that said, its tenants that think that they are Paris Hilton or something in the higher priced rental complexes that cause the issue. This particular unit was completely re-painted, carpeted, and everything new when this tenant moved in. But they have been so damn petty with things that just are out of line. I’ve checked our lease, statutes, etc. and she is operating within the letter of the law here. But not in the spirit. Yes, landlords are responsible for maintenance. We’ve never shirked that responsibility. Our problem is that we are TOO responsive, which seems to have sent a clear message to these tenants that we will be at their beck and call. That’s what I’m pissed about. Pure abuse of a privilege.

Despite legal issues, I think Frank is absolutely right here. Minor issues should be the responsibility of the tenant. Unfortunately in this case the tenant is female, not ‘handy’ with small fix jobs, and picky as hell. My maintenance guy said that at least she should be as picky with paying the rent on time. Thank god this is only a 6 month lease, but if this continues I have to send a clear message to them that if they continue to cost us money for minor maintenance issues like this, we won’t be renewing the lease with them. That might get the message across.


Quick question about the towel bar that came off…Was it screwed into studs, or with mollies?..If it was put in with mollies, it’s expected to come loose over time…If it’s screwed into studs, it’s obviously a tenant problem to deal with…

 I don't care if the thing was put up with scotch tape...  I've had tenants like this and it sucks.