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RealEstateAnswer, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27181
Experience:  10+ years in handling Leases, Landlord-Tenant, Foreclosures,Mortgages, and Eviction cases
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I own an apartment in DC and it is managed by a managing

Customer Question

I own an apartment in Washington DC and it is managed by a managing agent.
I rented the apartment and the lease states that the tenant is responsible for unclogging the drains in his unit once this one becomes blocked.
Recently this has happened and the tenant called a contractor , without notifying the managing agent or myself , to unblock the drain. The contractor, according to the tenant , found out that the blockage of the drain was not originated in the apartment but it came from the main building drainage whose responsibility of the repair is of the landlord ( I am the owner also of the building ).
In accordance to this the tenant claims that it is up to me to pay the cost of the repair of the clogged drainage pipe and consequently deducted the amount he paid to the contractor ( $ 486.00 ) from his August rental payment .
I do not agree with this as I feel that the tenant should have immediately acknowledged me or the managing agent of the fact that according to his contractor the blockage came from the building main drainage pipe and not from the one in his apartment. If he would have done this I would have had the possibility first of all to send a contractor of my confidence to ascertain whether this claim was real or not and then if this was true to get an other estimate of the work from my contractor that it might have been cheaper that the one of the tenant:s contractor.
As I intend to deduct the cost of the repair from the tenant,s deposit please advise me whether I can successfully defend myself in a court of law in case the tenant will sue me.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 11 months ago.

Good morning. Just to be clear, the tenant told the contractor to proceed and do the work?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
he did. The tenant contacted the managing agent only once the job was done and he sent him the bill he paid. As all this happened at the end of July when the tenant's monthly rent was due, then the tenant, without my or the managing agent consent, deducted the amount he paid for the contractor's bill from his rent.
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 11 months ago.

Thank you. Yes, it does appear there is a basis to object and contest what the tenant did. The reason being is that anything like this, needs to be 1) known by you and 2) addressed by you. The tenant can not take it upon themselves to force you to make a repair. As the landlord/owner, you have a right to assess it on your own and get an opinion and decide who is going to perform the work. If the clog was a result of something wrong with the building and unrelated to the tenant or their fault, you would be liable and they would not have to pay. However, they can not take it upon themselves to authorize the work and expect you to pay for it. With that being said, you can demand that they pay the rent in full, which as owed or else you will proceed with eviction, for unpaid rent. Another option is to propose to them a different amount, to settle this, if you can try and determine what the cost would have been and if it was less, make them pay the difference.

Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 11 months ago.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions or need any clarification on something which I stated above. Also, remember to rate my service at the top of this page, before exiting the site, so I can receive credit for my help. I hope you found it to be Excellent! Only rate my answer when you are 100% satisfied. If you feel the need to click either of the two lower ratings to the left, please stop and reply to me. I want to make sure your experience with the site was as pleasurable as possible and that you are satisfied with the help I provided.

Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 11 months ago.

I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!

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