Should I Let a Tenant Do Repairs for Money Off Rent?

Every landlord has considered allowing a tenant to do repairs for money off rent. One of the guaranteed duties of being a landlord is dealing with repair requests from tenants. They spend lots of time taking the call, arranging an appointment with a repair tech and processing invoices.

Some tenants may offer to complete some repairs themselves in exchange for a rent reduction. This may seem attractive to busy landlords that are looking for a way to save a little bit of money. However, is it a good idea to let a tenant do repairs for money off rent?

Problems With Allowing a Tenant to do Repairs for Money Off Rent

The number one problem with allowing a tenant to do repairs for money off the rent is that a tenant is not a professional. They aren’t licensed, insured or even trained to do repairs most of the time. At best, a tenant would qualify as a do-it-yourself hobbyist.

Landlords should not trust a tenant to do repairs on their own because they are never sure about the quality of their work. They also have no real recourse if something goes wrong.

Finally, when landlords allow tenants to do repairs on the rental unit, it takes the control and approval power away from the landlord. When landlords are in control of repairs, they can use professional contractors to get it done the right way every time.

Allowing Repairs for Money Off Rent Changes the Landlord/Tenant Dynamic

Besides the physical problems that allowing a tenant to do repairs for money off rent brings, it can lead to trouble with the landlord/tenant dynamic. When tenants and landlords exchange money for a place to live, it creates a simple business arrangement. It’s easy to enforce and expectations are clear.

Anytime discounts are exchanged for repair services, it can lead to a gray area that landlords should try to avoid. Some tenants might start to push against the expectations of the lease agreement. If there is a disagreement on the quality of repairs or the amount of discount, it can lead to bad feelings. When a lot of repairs and discounts are being exchanged, landlords and tenants could be getting dangerously close to a client/contractor relationship, which has it’s own legal issues.

Here is a video that provides more in-depth discussion about allowing repairs for money off rent:

Agreement to exchange tenant repairs for reduced rent

RentPrep’s Take on Whether to Allow Repairs for Money Off Rent

In RentPrep’s opinion, there’s almost no good reason to allow tenants to do repairs for money off rent. A good landlord should have several excellent repair companies lined up to take care of any of the big issues. They should also do the small repairs themselves or hire a licensed and insured handyman to do everything else. Some landlords are finding that keeping up with repairs is too time-consuming or difficult. If so, they should consider hiring a property management company.

There is a difference between exchanging do-it-yourself repairs for a rent discount and a tenant repair and deduct situation. In an ideal situation, landlords who have a list of repair contractors on hand should not have to deal with a tenant repair and deduct situation. However, sometimes emergencies happen and landlords need to know how to handle it.

The renal property is the landlord’s investment and they should not trust any repairs to just anyone. Using professional repair services is the best way to guarantee that the unit will stay in excellent shape for many years.