"Landlord is not responsible for repairing [windows] broken or damaged under any circumstances"

I’m looking to rent an apartment. I sent an application, was approved lightening fast (did they actually use my application fee to cover costs? I’m doubtful :dubious:). But anyway, they sent me a lease to sign, which I have not yet done. I’m looking it over and found this:

Um, what? Is this normal? If a tree falls and damages the roof, they have to repair that, but if the branch busts a window, they won’t pay to fix it? Seems odd to me. I think I’ll discuss this with them Monday. I do at least have the advantage that there aren’t too many people looking for apartments right now.

My questions for you all:
Is this normal? Is it unreasonable for me to ask for this to be changed? How is window-breakage normally handled without such a clause?

Spidey sense tingling!


Get this removed.

As someone who has rented my entire adult life - about 25 years at this point - I have never seen that clause in a lease before. On the very few occasions a window broke (tree-branch-through-pane-during-storm scenarios such as you mention) the landlord sent someone out to board it up within the hour and had it repaired within 24.

On the other hand, I have seem some odd provisions in leases before. Certainly, do inquire about the matter. If they need a tenant, and you wish to rent from them, there is the possibility of negotiation on this point. Leases can be modified, but it is much easier to do this before signing.

I would be questioning what is going to happen with this guy on any damage. repairs or when it comes time to get back your deposit. Why would a renter take responsibility for this. I sure wouldn’t agree to that clause.

When I worked in property management, our clause about broken windows/screens specifically stated that it breakage was only covered if it was due to weather. Otherwise, every time somebody’s kid broke a window, we’d have to pay for it.

What if you or a contractor broke it during routine repairs, or if a neighbor’s lawnmower kicked up a rock? There are plenty of situations that aren’t any fault of the tenant.

Anyway, I’m asking that they strike that sentence from the lease. I haven’t signed anything yet. I’m just out an application fee, which is a lot cheaper than a window. If they won’t budge, I have other options.

In the last house I rented, we had two broken-window incidents within a year and a half. The one broken by a storm branch was covered by the landlord, the one broken by a bird was not*. It seems to me that in the interest of fairness, any window breakage not caused by the tenants is the landlord’s responsibility to fix.

*We didn’t pay for either- the landlord was too slow getting our security deposit back, so we received the whole deposit.

You might do better by asking that “under any circumstances” be replaced with “by the tenant or his/her guests.” This clause probably harks back to some wild party that included a beer bottle toss, or some such.

Is this apartment next door to a golf course?

We have a winner, likely.:cool:

It was mainly a case of CYA on the landlord’s part. Probably 90% of the units were apartments, so lawnmowers wouldn’t be a problem. And sure, if we were fixing it and broke it, it would be covered. It was a lot easier to have a blanket statement in the lease and made exceptions as needed. We weren’t dealing with high-dollar rentals, and most of the time breakage was due to unruly kids/pets and/or domestic disturbances.

In California, the landlord has a duty to provide a habitable property to a tenant at all times. This is the “warranty of habitability” implied into every rental agreement or lease, by law. This warranty includes good windows.

Further, a tenant cannot waive the warranty, by law. Any agreement waiving the warranty is void.

The clause is bad news, so I would have it changed or struck to prevent any controversy about it later.

However, if the clause is left in there, check you local laws, as the clause may be unenforceable anyway.

I have a related question w/r/t landlord/tenant rights. (DISCLAIMER: You are not my lawyer, I am not your client, blah blah blah.)

I once considered buying a home that had a small (like 500 or so square feet) guest house out back. If I had bought the home, I would have rented the guest house out insanely cheap (like $300 per month or something) to someone who could use a break, like a college kid from church or something.

However, I am not in the least bit handy. Give me a hammer and a nail and I’m likely to crucify myself. Every household repair I’ve ever made short of changing a light bulb has been done by a paid contractor. So in this sense, I could conceivably be on the hook for a lot of money for repairs. So I figured I would write a clause into the lease to the effect of tenant is fully responsible for all repairs, no questions asked. I’m guessing that wouldn’t fly in the state of Illinois. :confused:

I don’t think it would fly in California… check your local laws. If you would be OK with $300/mo then maybe charge $350 and put the “extra” $50 into a repair account and find a cheap handyman for the small stuff.

It depends a lot on the town too, assuming you’re in one. I’ve been making use of the Champaign-Urbana Tenant Union. There are a lot more legislated tenant protections in Urbana than there are in Champaign.

I’d like to chime in with another perspective from a landlord.

There have been two broken windows in my triplex in the last two years. The first was a tenant’s pyscho ex-girlfriend stalking her, breaking a small pane by the front door in order to break in.

The second was another tenant fighting with his teenaged son. Never got the whole story on who broke the window or how.

Both tenants fixed the windows themselves.

I bring up the above incidences as a guess as to why that phrase is included in your lease. It’s similar to the more common phrase in a lot of leases saying that the landlord is not responsible for stopped up toilets. I include the latter phrase in my leases, but not the former (although it’s worth thinking about).

I have to say that, when I have good tenants, you betcha I’m going to fix a window broken by a neighbor or a tree toot sweet. Even with not so good tenants, I’ll fix the window in such a circumstance.

If a tenant breaks the window themselves and refuse to fix it, I’m likely to use that as grounds for eviction. I have language in my leases that make clear that the tenant is required to reasonably maintain the property.

All other circumstances would be considered on a case by case basis.

This might sounds harsh, but you would not believe some tenants’ sense of entitlement. You would also not believe what I am willing to do for good tenants. I heard recently that one of my tenants was laid off. I immediately called him and told him to consider his rental amount lowered by $(a significant amount)/month until he got back on his feet, and to let me know if the new amount became a hardship. Even though I am not currently making enough in this market to even cover the mortgage on the property (have an empty unit right now), I know that’s not my current tenants’ fault. It’s in my interests to keep good tenants and to make sure the property is maintained.

I would not be at all concerned if a potential tenant politely questioned such a phrase in the lease, and I would be happy to negotiate a change in the language to make clear that the tenant would not have to fix a window broken through no fault of his own. However, if a potential tenant was nasty or obstinate, and made clear that he would not be willing to sign the lease unless the phrase was struck and I agreed to fix a broken window under any circumstances, I would be happy to have that excuse not to rent to that person. If someone is going to be unreasonable, it’s good to know that up front, so I can look for a better tenant.

Just sayin’.

I agree with the others, if there is a unusual clause in a lease agreement there is a reason for it. It doesn’t mysteriously appear.

You could have neighbors that fight all the time. When I looked for flats I used to like to inspect them between 5:30pm and 7pm. That is when most people return from work and you can get an idea of what your neighbors sound like after a hard day at work.

My guess would be that it’s a poorly worded clause resulting from a bad past experience for the landlord.

We started with rental property a couple of years ago, and our lease forms have changed with every tenant as we discovered new clauses that needed to be included, based on past experience.

My guess is that the landlord got stiffed for a bunch of broken glass in excess of any deposits and is trying to cover himself for the future, albeit in a ham-fisted way.

I wouldn’t sign the lease with that clause, as a renter. However, if a prospective tenant that we liked asked about one of our clauses, we’d be more than happy to discuss them, and alter any that were mistakenly written too broadly.

We really try to make them as realistic and fair as possible. We’re not trying to screw anyone, just not get screwed ourselves.

I’d agree with Maia’s Well, though. Don’t go in whiny or aggressive, that would set off all our alarms.

In California, the landlord is not responsible under the implied warranty of habitability for repairing damages which were caused by the tenant or the tenant’s family, guests, or pets.

The law of your state might already cover this situation, like California law, regardless of what the lease says.

If this was a California situation, I would ask to strike that window provision completely or at least limit it to match the law by holding the tenant responsible for broken windows, but only if the damage was caused by the tenant or the tenant’s family, guests, or pets.

It’s normal.
Tenants don’t think that if some kid’s baseball breaks their window that they are the ones suffering a loss. They somehow recognize that if the ball breaks their vase or their nose that they are the ones suffering a loss. Yes, they can collect from the kid’s guardians if they find them and have grounds, but they can’t blame the landlord.