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.