Legal Q&A – Beyond Normal Wear & Tear?

Can property owners pass on costs for recurring repairs? - Written by Jason Mauck - Posted May 18, 2016

Legal Q&A – Beyond Normal Wear & Tear?

Q. My tenant has called me for the third time asking me to fix a clog in her bathroom drain. After the plumber inspected the drain and fixed it, he discovered that it was hair clogging it, likely due to the tenant shaving or cutting their hair over the sink. This is the third time it’s happened in a six month period, and the plumber says it’s the same culprit every time. Can I pass some of the costs to the tenants or can I issue a notice so that they stop doing this?

A. What a hairy situation! Okay, I’ll stop. Let’s take a step back and look at the question in a broader sense, which is, “what repairs can I charge my tenant for while the tenancy is still in effect?” The answer, generally, is anything beyond “normal wear and tear,” and that’s the standard that applies here. Where “ordinary wear and tear contemplates that deterioration will occur by reason of time and use despite ordinary care for its preservation.” (Kanner v. Globe Bottling Co. (1969) 273 Cal.App.2d 559, 565.) Wear and tear is therefore. . .

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