Property rental: who must pay for the work?

There are several reasons for carrying out work in a dwelling. It may be a desire to improve his living environment or a necessity because the obsolescence or the law requires you. In the case of a rental, the question often arises as to who bears the financial responsibility for these costs.

The distribution of repair costs between tenant and lessor is set by the Civil Code and the law of July 6, 1989. For more modern equipment, it is the collective agreements and case law that determine who must pay the work.

To find out who is in charge of maintenance, repair or replacement, the following criteria are used:

  • the nature of the works and equipment
  • the dilapidated housing or equipment
  • the causes of degradation

The big jobs are supported by the lessor

The lessor’s responsibility is to offer a decent home for rent. He must therefore ensure that there is no problem with ventilation, humidity and gas and electricity installations. He must also ensure that the materials used do not pose a risk to the health and safety of the occupants. To bring a leased dwelling into conformity, the landlord has the obligation to carry out the work.

If the property is part of a condominium, the owner must pay for the work and maintenance of the common parts of the condominium. He can then recover this amount from his tenant, the main beneficiary of the service, through rental charges.

During the lease, the lessor must finance the major work related to the dilapidated housing or a construction defect. It also finances the replacement of high-investment equipment such as a boiler or radiator. But he is not responsible in case of bad maintenance or degradation caused by the tenant.

At the end of the lease, the inventory of fixtures will be compared to the inventory of fixtures. If the landlord believes that the tenant has degraded the premises, depending on the criterion of obsolescence and presenting evidence (invoice or estimate), he can retain all or part of the deposit paid at the signing of the lease.

Of course, and if necessary, it is obliged to carry out upgrading work before renting the house or apartment again.

Routine maintenance is provided by the tenant

By signing the lease, the tenant agrees to use the housing as intended and to ensure routine maintenance by minor repairs.

Upon arrival in the housing, the tenant can offer to carry out development work (painting, flooring …) in exchange for a reduction in rent. It must request the authorization of the landlord and it will then be necessary to include in the lease a specific clause called a work agreement.

During the lease, the tenant carries out the rental repairs. Rental repairs are all expenses that the tenant pays directly when he repairs or maintains the dwelling, following normal use. It is not necessary that there be degradations to make these expenses. For example, changing a light bulb, buying a product to wash the windows, draining the septic tank or calling a professional to maintain the garden, is part of rental repairs.

The tenant also pays each month the rental charges to his lessor, as provided at the signing of the lease. They are used to cover the expenses related to the co-ownership like the maintenance of the elevator, the collective heating or the cleaning of the common parts. At each anniversary date of the lease, this amount is recalculated. The owner-lessor is entitled to request an additional amount from his tenant if the estimated amount of past annual expenses is not sufficient. Conversely, he can pay a sum to the tenant in case of surplus.

Upon departure, the tenant must return the housing in good condition. To do this, he must carry out some work if necessary before handing over the keys: fill in the holes in the walls, make paint connections, replace the broken windows or tile tiles … The inventory of the places of exit will make it possible to evaluate the state of housing. If the landlord believes that the damage is numerous and on presentation of supporting documents, he can retain all or part of the deposit, paid at the signing of the lease.

The procedures for carrying out the work

As soon as a malfunction is found, the tenant must inform the landlord.

The landlord is authorized to perform the repairs in the same way, nothing requires it to improve the installation. In the case of major work, the lessee and the lessor must define the days and hours of intervention unless work is urgently required. If the site extends over more than 40 days, the rent must be reduced in proportion to the duration of the work and the part of the dwelling that can not be used.

If the work renders the dwelling uninhabitable, the landlord has no obligation to relocate the tenant. On the other hand, the tenant can obtain the cancellation of the lease without notice.

In the event that the lessor delays in having the work done, the tenant must continue to pay his rent. If necessary, he must send the lessor a letter of formal notice by registered mail. If he still does not get an answer, he can enter the departmental conciliation commission. In no case the tenant is entitled to suspend payment.

The evaluation of the obsolescence

The obsolescence is the criterion that assesses the normal wear and tear of places and equipment. It includes the notions of time passing but also the tenure of the tenant and degradation of the fact or not of it.

There is no official list to evaluate the obsolescence. On the other hand, there are several grids coming from different collective agreements which also give indications on the haircut to apply.

For example, a landlord installs a new carpet at the arrival of the tenant whose life is estimated at 7 years. If at the end of the lease, the carpet must be replaced, the tenant will pay in proportion to his time of occupation: 100% if he leaves after 2 years, 50% after 5 years, etc.

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