Who is responsible for clogged drains?

Is the owner or the tenant responsible? The drains were not clogged when the house was rented out so I would think it is automatically the tenants fault. Can I charge the tenant to fix the drains?

Depends on what is clogging them…I have a clause in the lease that says if the drains are clogged because the tenant put something down the drain and caused the clog, then the tenant pays. If, on the other hand, roots have gotten into the pipes, that is normally a landlord item.


Same here. The lease has a examples of what tenants should not put in the toilet. If they do clog it, the plumber will determine whether it was caused by the tenant. If it’s something that seems like it’s their fault, they pay.

How do you enforce the clauses in leases for things like that other than withholding the security deposit? The clogging of a drain seems like something subjective especially if you have to go to court. My first house I did an expensive renovation because I lived there, it was a 3 family brownstone and I put in high end kohler kitchen and bath appliances and we are moving on but I am really leary to rent!!! So I would like a few suggestions on enforcing those small clauses in the lease.

Have the plumber bill the tenant directly. Show him the lease where the tenant signed agreeing to pay for clogs that are a result of his (the tenant’s) negligence, if need be.


Keith, if the plumber bills the tenant and the tenant does not pay, can the plumber file a mechanics lien on the landlords property? If the plumber can file a mechanics lien wont this create a problem if you every try to sell the property in the future?

A mechanic’s lien is a lien on the property. If you tenant decides to install a patio cover (let’s presume you never see the property because it is out of state and they always pay their rent so no red flags go up, and let’s presume you think your managment company is great). After the cover is installed, they don’t pay for it. The contractor can file a mechanic’s lien.

You as an owner can avoid responsibility for this though. You have to file a notice of non-responsibility within a period of 10 days and post it in plain view on the property. If the contractor continues to work, it is at their own risk. You should consult an attorney for specifics as they relate to your state. The above applies in CA.

carlittle, it sounds like in your example the installation of the patio cover is still in process when the landlord find out about the mechanics lien. “If the contractor continues to work, it is at their own risk” What if the work had already been completed and the mechanics lien already filed. In addition, the landlord does not find out about the lien until sometime later. Would you have to pay the contractor before you can sell the property? Also, I have heard mechanics liens can be foreclosed out. Is this really possible?

here’s the deal from a guy who been a landlord for 7 yrs.

you tell the tenant its his fault and he will pay; go fix it or hire the plumber to do it; then you bill to the tenant (and you pay the plumber). At worst, you take it out of their security depsoit at the end. End of story.

Been there/done that; it very simple.

Thanks for your insight 54. I wonder if taking the hard line with the tenant can result in a little more than a clogged drain when the tenant moves out? I’ve never been a lanlord but I’ve banked several. It always seemed these guys had to sink money into the property when the tanant moved out.

this highlights why you need a property manger to communicate with a tenant and not let a small situation turn into a big mess (no pun intended).

as for repairs, that’s why there is security deposits. If you have tenants who live there for several years; then, yes, you do usually have to spend some money when it turns over just to deal with wear-n-tear stuff. That all part of the business.

Also if you have tenants who are really rough on the propety, you send them packin’. That’s why I like to drive by every so often just to see what is going on. You can tell a lot from quick drive-by.

Precisely why I invest near home and not 1/2 a country away!