Who should deal with trash, water or septic issues – the landlord or the tenant?

We have a contract with our landlord for our apartment. The apartment complex has contracts with the company who picks up the trash and with the septic/water company. Whenever we have a water or trash issue, they always make us call these companies ourselves even though we don’t have a contract with them except for the fact that we are forced to use and pay for their services. The only party we pay is the property owner. Is this right or should the property owner be the one to deal with this on our behalf.

Asked on August 29, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, in the situation you describe, the landlord should be the one to deal with trash, water, and sewer--if the landlord is the one with the contract, they are the one with legal relationship with the provider and furthermore, landlords have to provide habitable rental units under the "implied warranty of habitability", and maintaining trash, water, septic, etc. is part of maintaining habitabiliity--and thus part of the landlord's obligations.
All that said, if as a practical matter, faster and more focused response is obtained by having tenants directly contact these services, it's hard to see the harm at the end of the day, if having tenants call the service provides, rather than calling the superintendent, who then has to call the service provider, results in getting the problem fixed more quickl and efficiently, then this is likely to the tenants' benefit.


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