Who pays to repair a tenant’s broken window?

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04/22/2016 | Author: TAR Legal Staff

The tenant of a property I manage told me someone shattered a window while trying to break into his unit. He then sent me written notice of the broken window and is arguing that the landlord is obligated to pay for the repair because the damage was the result of a criminal act by a third party. I say the tenant has to pay for the repair. Which of us is right?

The answer depends on your lease. If you used TAR’s Residential Lease, then you are correct that the tenant must pay for the repair. Under Paragraph 18D(2) of the TAR Residential Lease, a landlord does not have to pay to repair damage to windows and screens unless the damage is caused by the landlord’s negligence. Therefore, the tenant is responsible for the cost of repairing the window, regardless of how the damage was caused (e.g., a break-in, an accident, or a tenant who deliberately broke the window because he or she was locked out). 

However, if you didn’t use the TAR lease or if your written lease doesn’t address this situation in the manner required by the Property Code, the broken window could be deemed a condition that materially affects the physical health and safety of an ordinary tenant and the landlord could be required to make a diligent effort to repair the window and ultimately be responsible for payment.

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Categories: Property Management, Legal
Tags: legal, legal faq, property management, renters, leasing, contracts, forms


THERESA AKIN on 04/30/2016

The tenant should have renter’s insurance. Depending on his policy the determined cause of damage would state the responsible party. I have always encouraged tenants to obtain renter’s insurance for their contents.  If there is a lease then that is also taken into consideration.

Keith Laursen on 04/30/2016

There is what is in the lease, and there is what makes common sense.  As a landlord, I would replace the window for all the reasons stated by others.  Your tenants shouldn’t be breaking a lot of windows and if they are, you have a more serious problem.

I would much rather take care of it if it was due to an attempted break in.  Suppose you delay or the tenant can’t afford it right away and the criminal comes back through that window.  You get the idea - common sense says fix it and treat your tenant like you would want to be treated vs. waving the lease in front on their face for a one time window repair.

Michael Francis on 04/29/2016

Hi Bill,
Instead of “fixing” I should have said “paying for” or “participating in the cost of the repair”.  Coming up with the money to replace a double pane window (these are expensive) can be difficult.  If the tenant can demonstrate financial hardship, we’ll work with them.

Morris "Bill" Austin on 04/28/2016

Hello All,
Repairing it ASAP seems prudent as an owner for several reasons. However you are going to address the repair you should be consistent or risk discrimination. As Mike mentioned, delaying the repair could cause bigger problems from a safety standpoint. You could win the battle and loose the war in the end. An ounce of prevention…

andrew meisenheimer on 04/28/2016

I never let a tenant do repairs ,rather I bill him the first $25 of any broken items if he admittedly did them. windows should be fixed immediately. this is all in the lease that I prepare along with time limits of repairs being done. default clause of 7 days to repair .

Michael Francis on 04/25/2016

I agree with Mike.

I would also add that sometimes fixing a window will go a long way to building good will with a tenant.  Depends on the tenant, depends on the owner,....

Mike Mengden on 04/22/2016

This response is right, but I would add that as a landlord you might want to secure the property and fight about who pays it later.  Having an unsecured property might open the landlord or property manager to much more serious liability than just broken glass.  Many property managers I know may secure the property immediately, and may even repair the window, door etc. and then bill back the tenant.  That way you know it was done correctly.

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