Tenants vs. Landlords: Who Pays for What

| November 2, 2012

tenant rights When you rent an apartment or house, it’s important to understand your rights as a tenant in terms of who pays for what. Some expenses tenants customarily pay, while other fees are generally covered by landlords.

Property damage

If there is damage to your apartment, you are usually responsible if the damage occurred because of your negligence. For instance, you threw a ball at the window and broke it, or you kicked a hole in the wall. When it comes to normal wear and tear, such as worn-out carpeting or a light fixture or appliance that has become old and doesn’t work, the landlord is responsible for replacing those items at his or her own expense.

Lease and rental agreements generally spell out the various repairs for which you are responsible. These documents will also indicate what you may do without getting the landlord’s permission, such as if you want to paint the walls or add shelves.


Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that your heating system remains in proper working order, but generally the owner is not responsible for paying the electric or gas bill to warm your toes.


If you don’t have air-conditioning but it’s been a hot summer and you’d like a unit installed, your landlord is not responsible for putting in an air-conditioner to make sure you stay cool. He or she also does not have to pay the cooling bill.


Your landlord is responsible for paying to have your apartment fumigated in order to eradicate vermin such as rats, mice, cockroaches, ants and bedbugs. Remember, though, that your actions, such as leaving food out, can cause this to be an ongoing problem, so it’s important to do your best to combat pests.

Trash collection and water

Often the landlord pays for garbage collection because it’s usually a set expense that isn’t dependent on how much you use, like utilities. Water may or may not be your responsibility. Who pays for water should be outlined in your lease.


You are responsible for putting working light bulbs in light fixtures, but your landlord must keep the fixtures in working order, especially in entryways.

Smoke Detectors

Landlords are responsible for providing working smoke detectors and radon or carbon monoxide detectors where those are required by law. It is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that the detectors remain in working order and to let the landlord know if one needs replacement.

Now that you know who pays for what, you can make sure that your rights as a tenant are met.

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Category: Evergreen, Real Estate, Rental Property -- Apartments, Rental Property -- Homes

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.