Who pays for damage to a rental apartment?

Aspects of who pays for damage to a rental apartment are included in Article 21 of the Urban Leasing Law, which specifies the obligations of owners and tenants related to the conservation of the home, the maintenance of household goods and appliances and the accidents at home.

This same Law also distinguishes between necessary works and repairs, due to habitual wear and tear or misuse, three concepts that define who must bear the cost of damage to rented homes.

From Sky Marketing, in this blog article we solve all your doubts regarding the damages in a rental apartment and who pays for them.

Urban Leasing Law: who pays for damage to a rental home

The Urban Leases Law is the document that establishes the legal regime applicable to the leases of urban properties for housing or uses other than housing.

The first draft of this Law was published in 1994 and, since then, it has been modified to adapt to the different needs of tenants and owners. The latest amendments to this Law, also known as LAU, were carried out in 2019. Its main objective was to protect the tenant by establishing changes in the duration and in the usual extensions in the rents. The new Law also establishes a limitation of the deposit to a maximum of the equivalent of two monthly rent installments, something interesting for tenants.

The Urban Leasing Law is made up of a total of five titles and 40 articles. Title IV (Articles 21 to 25) specifies the rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord in relation to the Conservation of the home (Article 21) and, therefore, who should pay for damage to a rental apartment.

Initially, it is the landlord who must assume the responsibility of carrying out and paying for all the maintenance repairs of the home to ensure habitability in it. There are only two exceptions:

  • That the tenant caused the damage directly.
  • That the repair has its origin in a misuse of the facilities or the home.

In any case, this responsibility will depend on the type of breakdown and its origin, as we explain below.

→ It may interest you: Things you should look at before buying or renting a house

Damages in a rental apartment: necessary repairs due to wear and tear and improper use

First of all, you should know that any problem that occurs in a home must be communicated to the owner in the shortest possible time. Of course, we are not referring to issues such as changing a light bulb, but to other types of incidents or malfunctions that require repair, replacement, and even a more complex intervention.

The owner must know at all times what has happened in his house. In fact, when it comes to serious repairs, it is convenient to provide the landlord with the direct verification, or by technicians designated by him, of the state of the home, informing him of the need for the repair and its possible origin.

For legal purposes and in general, all the necessary works and repairs will be borne by the tenant. And although the LAU does not specify specific actions in this regard, necessary works and repairs will be considered:

  • Repairs aimed at correcting notable flaws in the home that make it unusable for the purpose agreed in the contract.
  • Works to preserve the roof or to prevent water leaks.
  • The works consisting of the repair, renovation or partial replacement of any of the component elements of water conduction and drainage installations.
  • The works consisting of the repair, renovation or partial replacement of any of the component elements of electricity installations.
  • The works essential for the normal enjoyment of the home.

On the other hand, all those small repairs that require wear and tear due to the ordinary use of the house will be considered works due to wear and tear, and will be borne by the tenant.

Finally, the works or repairs due to misuse are those that come from improper or negligent use by the tenant and, therefore, must also be assumed by the tenant.

Repairs and breakdowns: obligations of the lessor and the tenant 

What does the landlord pay?

The owner is responsible for making all those arrangements that are necessary to keep the house in livable conditions.

Thus, it must assume changes in the light or water installations if they are old or if they cause breakdowns (if a tap leaks or if the automatic is tripped), and the repair or replacement of old appliances or that have exhausted their useful life (thermos electric, air conditioners, ovens, refrigerators, etc.). You will also have to take charge of the change or repair of shower screens, cabinets, countertops, sinks or toilets.

Finally, it will also be the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the walls and ceilings (both paint and solve problems of humidity or leaks), the floor (broken tiles, polished or varnished) and the elimination of pests derived from the poor condition of the facilities.

What does the tenant pay?

Tenants must bear the cost of small breakdowns caused by the use of a home, for example changing light bulbs and replacing water or air conditioning filters, as well as all those damages derived directly from their actions.

For example, if you break a window pane or one of the dishes on the floor, you will have to pay for it. Also, the breaking of blinds or the elimination of holes in the wall caused by pictures is the obligation of the tenant.

On the other hand, the tenant can carry out urgent repairs to avoid major damages or serious inconveniences and demand the amount from the landlord afterwards, although always communicating this beforehand.

And what about household appliances?

The question that many people ask in this case is: how do you distinguish a necessary change from one for wear and tear? How does this affect household appliances?

Although it is difficult to determine what is wear and tear or a necessary work, we will have to rely on common sense and the good understanding of all the parties involved.

In any case, one way to protect both the landlord and the tenant is to add specific clauses in the rental contract about breakdowns or repairs. This is especially important if the apartment is newly built, if it has a recent renovation or if furniture or appliances have just been changed.

In general, the repair of the appliances that were paid for by the tenant must be paid by the landlord. And if not, that money can be deducted from the deposit when the rental contract ends. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, the tenant should not be responsible for buying a new washing machine if the old one has broken down because it is old.

In the case of the refrigerator, the replacement will be the responsibility of the owner, but if there is a fault and it cannot be proven that it is due to the habitual use of the appliance, this expense must be borne by the tenant.

Finally, the maintenance and repair costs of the boiler that are necessary for its safe use and operation will be the responsibility of the tenant. Although in case of replacement it will be the landlord who pays the amount of the appliance and its installation.
Are you an owner and want to put your home for sale or rent? Do you have doubts between buying or renting an apartment? At Tajarat properties we are experts in real estate services and we can help you. Get in touch with us!


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