Who’s Responsible For Rental Property Plumbing? Tips for California Renters

pipe from plumbing issue in Sacramento

Murphy’s Law says that anything that can go wrong, will. It can certainly feel that way sometimes when you’re a renter. The heat’s wonky, your appliances finicky, and your plumbing may be nothing but trouble. So who’s responsible for Sacramento plumbing repairs that fix the minor drips, the major breaks, and everything in between? It can be complicated.

Step One: Know Your Rights as a Tenant

The first thing we’d suggest is to read your rental or lease agreement. We also suggest familiarizing yourself with tenants’ rights in California. The protections are better here than in most states, 

Step Two: Understand Your Plumbing Problem

For all their differences, plumbing problems usually fall into one of two categories: human error or component failure. Some things — like fixtures — wear out over time; other times, something like a seismic event or a root incursion can cause a host of issues. Those are clear-cut cases where it’s the landlord’s responsibility. 

But what about when you’ve poured grease or leftover food down the drain or the toilet? How about when you’ve flushed something you shouldn’t have, or tried to repair a problem only to make it worse? In those cases, the tenant may be on the hook for the repairs rather than the landlord. If you’re paying, find out the cost of the repairs and call Ace Plumbing for a second opinion and estimate.

Step Three: Know Your Do’s and Don’ts

Nobody wants a leaky faucet to turn into months’ worth of recriminations, finger pointing, annoyance, or even legal issues. So there are a few common sense measures you can take to protect your living space, your credit rating, and your sanity. 

  • Report plumbing issues promptly. We’ve seen countless cases that would otherwise have been a quick and inexpensive repair, but which turned into major projects because they were neglected, and neglect puts the cost on your shoulders.
  • Document the problems you report in detail: the nature of the problem, any steps you took to fix it, who you contacted, and when you got in touch. Reach out via email whenever possible to establish and maintain a paper trail.
  • If your landlord or property management company is slow to respond and/or make repairs, we don’t suggest withholding rent. You’re within your rights to do so, but you’re leaving yourself open to losing your security deposit, negative items on your credit report, legal fees, and eviction.
  • This doesn’t necessarily have to do with your plumbing, but get renter’s insurance, and ask your agent if additional coverage for repairs is or can be included. It’s a good way to protect yourself, especially if you live in a building where another tenant’s neglect or abuse can impact your unit.

Now, a cautionary note: if you’re looking for legal advice on your rights as a tenant, don’t turn to a plumber, or to Google. There are lawyers and tenants’ rights organizations for that sort of thing. Similarly, if you’ve got plumbing problems, don’t turn to a lawyer or to Google. There are plumbers for that sort of thing, and a call to Ace Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning will get the plumbing in your home — whether it’s an apartment, condo, duplex, or nearly anything else with four walls — back to normal.