Is a tenant responsible for paying a maintenance fee for plumbing problems?

Is it the responsibly of tenant to pay maintenance fees for leaking pipes in a rental? My landlord charged me a $50 maintenance fee we called them on the 08/13 they sent out a plumber who could see the wetness from the leak but could not tell where the leak was coming from so he left the next time it happened we took pictures and videos of the leak we called the landlord again about it on 08/15 did not hear from the plumber until the 16th he set up an appointment for the 20th at 1:00 pm he never showed until the 21st and made a repair but I was looking at my statement for my rent and it says that I have a $50 maintenance fee the was due on 08/13. Can they do this? It was my understanding that in my state the landlords were responsible for plumbing and electrical.

Asked on August 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

While the norm or default is that plumbing is the landlord's responsibility (and cost), there are two exceptions that can make it the tenant's responsibility:
1) If the lease says the tenant must pay--a lease is a contract, and so if a tenant contractually agreed to pay, they are bound to their agreement. Check your lease to see what it says about this.
2) If the tenant caused the leak or damage, or allowed it to get worse, through his or her negligence (carelessness) or through an intentional wrongful act. The two most common examples of this are:
a) A tenant or tenant's child flushes something that should not be flushed, blocking and possibly damaging the pipes; the tenant is liable for the cost.
b) The tenant failed to report a small leak and over time it got bigger and bigger, so that what might have been a $50 service call became a $500 call; the tenant's carelessness in not reporting a leak so it could have been dealt with before escalating an make them liable. 
Apart from the above, however, it should be the landlord's cost, not the tenant's.

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