Blocked Drains – Who Is Responsible?

Property Management Blog

The worst nightmare of a tenant and a landlord is the clogged or blocked drain. This one simple mishap can turn in to the worst scenario possible. As a landlord, you take care of everything; you make sure the house is neat and ready for the tenant to rent. When you hand over the rental property, everything is in working order; nothing’s amiss. But in a couple of days, you receive an angry call from your tenant that the drainage system is falling apart. Your tenant tells you that the drain is blocked, and you need to come straight away to solve the issue.

The mine you end the call, you are thinking of ways to solve this. You will need to either go out to the property yourself or find a contractor to sort the mess out. But, have you thought, whether this is your problem or not? We understand that the property is your responsibility but, does that also include blocked drains that are the tenant’s fault?

How do you know whose fault the blocked drain is? It’s a struggle to figure out who is responsible for the blocked drain and the mess it’s causing. This is also a struggle when the contract between the tenant and the landlord doesn’t state any clause about this.

Our ultimate guide is your answer to all these questions, by the end of this article; you will have a clear idea when to go check on the issue and when to pay for the repairs.

The Landlord’s Responsibility:

As a landlord or property manager, your sole responsibility is your property; it being good and bad keeps the tenant happy and sad. So, once you take care of the property, your tenants will automatically be happy with you. Making the property fit to live for the tenants is what you need to look after; this includes not only the overall maintenance and cleanliness but also the plumbing and drainage system.

Your duty and responsibility towards the property don’t end when the tenants move in. In fact, the real test begins after the tenant moves in. Once the tenant starts to use the property, all faults, if any, come to light.

The first thing you need to make sure is that your tenant knows about all the repairs that went down before the new tenant came in the picture. You will need to list down all the repairs that you had done to make the property habitable. Listing them down in the contract gives you credibility as well as will serve as proof should any accident happens later. However, even after listing the repairs that you did, you will still need to take care of any urgent repairs that you get called in for; these may include a burst pipe, flooding, a massive leakage and such. A landlord or property manager is responsible for these, even when they aren’t listed in the agreement.

In case of a flood or burst pipe, your tenant will look for your guidance. You should always keep the communication channels open for the tenant to contact; you can get the repairs done. Delayed response to emergency flooding can ruin a lot for the tenant, such as the flooring, furniture, appliances, etc. as a landlord or property manager, you should always have the contractor or a plumber on speed dial. If you live close-by, you should also go and assess the situation.

The Tenant’s Responsibility:

Here’s some good news for the landlord, not only are you responsible for the property, your tenant is equally responsible for the condition of the property. The tenant should make sure that he gets the property inspected adequately before moving in. After the property has been occupied by the tenant, minor repairs are their sole responsibilities. Any damage caused by the tenant is the responsibility of the tenant. They cannot blame the landlord for the damage or expect the landlord to pay for the repairs.

Even in the case of a blocked drain, the tenant is responsible for the repair as well as the repair cost. The tenant should be careful about the junk and scrap he puts in the sink; if the blockage is due to his irresponsible actions, he should be the one to pay for it. Even if the mistake was unintentional, if food scraps are found on the drainage chute, the tenant should pay for the repair cost.

When Is The Landlord Responsible For The Payment?

While signing the contract, the landlord has full power to decide who is responsible for what. If the clause says it’s the tenant’s duty and the tenant signs the agreement, then he or she is liable to bear the cost of repairs. However, if the leakage or blockage is due to the negligence of the landlord, he will be liable to pay for the repair cost. Negligence mostly means that the property wasn’t checked or inspected before the last tenant moved out; hence the landlord didn’t know about the faulty plumbing or the mess the last tenant left behind. This blunder on his part will become a massive issue for the next tenant.

In most cases, the landlord should prove that the tenant is responsible for the mess when proved the landlord isn’t under any obligation to pay for the repair cost. If the tenant proves that the blockage was due to the negligence of the landlord, the landlord will have to cough up the money to pay for the repairs.


Blocked drains are easy to mend, but the real hassle is when you are called in the middle of the night to looks into a mess created by a blocked drain. When left untreated, this can become a huge mess, and hence the whole argument of who is responsible. All in all, as the landlord, you are responsible for the whole property, but if you inspect the place after every tenant moves out, repair everything on time, you will not be held liable for minor repairs. Moreover, keep all channels of communication open, and let your tenant know that you are there in case of an emergency.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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