Tenant bought caulk and says she should be reimbursed

My tenant said that there were fire ants coming into the house from the bottom of the windows and other areas around the house. She said she bought caulk and sealed up the edges herself and said she has the receipts and asked me what I was going to do about it. What should I tell her? Should I reimburse her for the caulk?

Most leases have a clause in them that says the tenant is responsible for normal wear and tear. Ones that you get from Office Depot have that clause. I would not be happy if she caulked the windows shut, that could be a mess to clean up.

It sounds like you may need an exterminator to spray, but by being the tight wad I am I would go buy the powder that kills ants and spread it around the house. One nice thing about being in ND we don’t have termites up here.

I must say that I typically like it when a tenant will take initiative to fix things and I don’t have a problem if they deduct some things from the rent as long as they send the receipt. My limit without my consent is $50. The caulking is typically very inexpensive, but cleaning it off the windows is very time consuming.

Good Luck


If it’s under $50, get a copy of the receipts and tell her she can deduct it from next months rent. And tell her to consult with you next time before she does anything. A dozen caulking tubes are like $25. The turnover costs, if you have to rent it to someone else or hire an exterminator, will be a lot more. Trust me. It’s not worth the fight over trivial amounts like this. If it’s repeated, that’s a different story and then you should look to get her out of there. But, first time, just tell her to take it from next month’s rent with proof of receipts.

I agree with Dave completely. The part about tenants doing things like this multiple times is very important. There are some people out there who will send you a receipt for the pumpkin orange and purple polka dot paint job they just painted in your house. Or some enterprising individuals would even send you receipts for things they either took back later or receipts from their friend’s purchases so you’ll deduct it from the rent. Just don’t let your tenant “fix” something every time she’s short on rent.

I have done this in the past, but slightly differently.

I dislike allowing tenants to do stuff on their own. Ants are a problem, everywhere. I doubt she got rid of them either. The problem is that now she feels entitled to fix things and deduct from the rent. I have allowed them to fix something in the past but write a check for the amount on the spot and make them pay the full rent due.

I always put a clause into my lease stating to inform landlord of any fixes. In that case I would ask the tenant if they wanted to handle it or if they wanted me to. I wouldn’t want them fixing anything in the future if it were to be something more serious.