Can a landlord require tenants to pay for AC repair which needed to be done because they didn’t change the filter regularly?

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Can a landlord require tenants to pay for AC repair which needed to be done because they didn’t change the filter regularly?

My tenants reported that the A/C was slowly giving out a few days ago and I called the contractor out who concluded it was a maintenance issue and not broken A/C, so they wouldn’t cover the cost. The service repair man said this was a typical problem for when the air filter is not regularly changed and the dirt travels and affects the performance. The tenants pretty much admitted they’ve never changed it (1year since last service) but when they moved it I explained to them how to do the filter change and left few extras. Can I legally charge them for the repair?

Asked on June 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot charge them. Tenants are not obligated to perform maintenance for the landlord unless and only to the extent that the lease specifically obligated them to do so. Otherwise, it your responsibility to change the filter, and you would have been legally be entitled to access  their unit (on proper--usually 24 hours or more--notice) for the purpose of inspecting and changing it.


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