Property Management Education

Should You Let Your Tenant Do Their Own Repairs?

If you’ve been a landlord for any period of time, you’ve likely received your fair share of tenant calls requesting a repair that needs to be addressed at your property.

Sometimes, tenants offer to make the repair on their own with the request they receive a deduction to their rent. This raises the question, “should landlords allow tenants to perform their own repairs?” The answer isn’t as clear cut as you might expect. Let’s explain.

In Most Cases...

For some repairs, it may not be wise to allow tenants to make their own repairs. However, there are two questions you should ask before deciding whether or not to allow your tenant to perform the repair on your Denver rental property.

Questions to Ask Before Allowing a Tenant to Make a Repair

Denver rental repair

1. What is the liability level to the tenant?

Could the tenant going to hurt themself while performing this repair? While accidents can always happen, some repairs have a higher probability of causing injury.

For example, allowing a tenant to perform a roof repair that requires them to climb a 25 foot ladder has a higher probability of causing injury than does changing out a filter on the furnace.

Should an injury occur on your property as a result of a tenant performing their own repair, the landlord may have legal liability for approving that repair.

You should also consider the tenants individual proficiency and ability to make the repair. We once had a tenant who ran a plumbing company - so we were very comfortable with allowing hime to make small plumbing repairs when necessary.

2. What is the liability level to the property?

If the tenant performs the repair incorrectly, will this damage your Denver rental property? Or is the repair something so minor, that it doesn’t really matter all that much? You as a landlord will need to decide this on a case by case basis.

Examples of Denver Rental Property Repairs

Rental Property Repairs

Let’s put this process into practice with a few rental property repair examples:

Sprinkler system turnoffs

When cold weather comes, your property sprinkler system needs to be winterized to ensure it doesn’t freeze.

What is the liability level of the tenant? The likelihood of the tenant hurting themself is very low in this case, so onto the next question!
What is the liability level of the property? Could there be damage to your property if a tenant performs this sprinkler winterization repair incorrectly? You bet! Broken lines, pipes freezing, etc. All of these things could cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Verdict: DON’T allow tenants to repair sprinkler systems.

Changing Furnace Filters

Every 3 months furnace filters need replacing in order for the furnace to operate well.

What is the liability level of the tenant? The process of changing a furnace filter is quite simple, and the risk to the tenant is minimal.
What is the liability level of the property? If you can ensure that the tenant actually replaces the furnace filter, there is very minimal risk to the property.
Verdict: DO allow tenants to change furnace filters. However, make sure to follow up with the tenant to make sure they have actually replaced the filter, as going too long without replacing the filter can result in a deteriorating furnace.

Cleaning Gutters

As leaves and debris will collect in your Denver rental property gutters, tenants may want to clean them out themselves.

What is the liability of the tenant? Cleaning gutters on a rental property often requires climbing a tall ladder. This makes the risk of liability to the tenant quite high.
What is the liability level of the property? Damage could potentially occur to the rental property if the gutters aren’t clean, but the greater risk in this situation is possible injury to the tenant.
Verdict: DON’T allow tenants to clean gutters on your rental property.

Want more repair and maintenance tips? Check out this blog post on six maintenance tips for Colorado landlords. 

Should Tenants Deduct the Repair Cost From Their Rent?

If a tenant does conduct a repair themself, can they legally deduct the cost of the repair from their rent? Sometimes.

Colorado landlord / tenant law has a provision on specific types of required repairs that if you, as a landlord, do not peform in a certain amount of time, the tenant can have it done and legally withhold the cost of the repair from their rent. 

Get Your Denver Real Estate Investor Questions Answered

Figuring out which repairs you should allow tenants to do versus the repairs you as a landlord should do isn’t an exact science. Based on Colorado state law, your lease agreement, and how much protection you want to give to your tenant, you need to decide the repairs you as a landlord want to address.

Repairs on Denver rental properties can be a little complicated. Have more questions about this or any other Colorado property management topic? Check out our free learning center and blog, or submit your question right here.

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