Scott Esmail

Should you let a tenant do repairs in exchange for a rent deduction

I get asked this all the time by tenants ” There are some thing I believe need to be done in this house, I’m a contractor and I can fix it myself if you can discount the rent?” The answer I give every person is the same “NO” Absolutely not should you allow a tenant to do this and here are the reasons why.

My first encounter with this situation I was a new landlord and I bought a house that needed a lot more work than I thought. I had tenants go by and which point I told them how everything would be by the time they moved in. They suggested that they would be happy to do all the work in exchange for the first month rent and security deposit. Based off my calculations that was a great deal for me seeing the quotes I had previously received were significantly higher so silly me decided to go for it. I gave them a 1 month deadline and when the second month rolled around no work was even started an in fact they didn’t even pay their rent. To make a long story short I ended up having to evict them lost all that money I could have got in rent and could have had the house completed. Lesson learned so I thought



The next time this question came around I decided “no way” but the situation was a bit different so I took the chance. The tenant was already living there and was regularly paying rent on time and had a small issue which they assured me they could fix no problem and the cost would have been the same if I had to call someone in so I went for it. Everything went fine they fixed it no problem and sent me the receipt for parts and I deducted it from the rent. The following month they had called with another issue, again it was small but a bit bigger than the last one, since everything went well the first time I agreed they again sent me the receipt for parts and I deducted it from rent. The next month came around and I got the same call? Now Im like whats going on here, there were never any issues for the first 6 moths now 3 months in a row and ironically this happens every time rent is due? I decided this time “no” I’m going to send my people in to look at this now third issue in a row. According to the plumber the toilet looked like the part had been tampered with. This is when I realized because I let them get away with it the one time this had been an on going issue they had been trying to create to get a deduction in rent. This was the last time under any circumstance when I let a tenant repair anything for exchange in rent. Now I just say “NO”


Written by Scott Esmail

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