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As a landlord, maintaining your property is important to your bottom line and plumbing is one of those things where so many headaches can easily be prevented with a little plumbing knowledge. However, not all renters understand plumbing. Not only that but the ones who don’t understand it can indirectly cost their landlords a LOT of money.

You know how it goes…grease down the kitchen sink, cat litter, and trash flushed down the toilet, gobs of long hair down the drain – it can all add up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year and the thing of it is, by educating renters a lot of this can be avoided.

So, if you’re a landlord, here’s our advice to hopefully keep your renters informed and save you money along the way:

1. Educate Your Renters.

You never know how much your renters know about plumbing and if they happen to be young or never owned a home before, they may know less (a lot less) than you’d like them to know. The best way to protect your rental’s indoor plumbing is to create a handout for your renters and ensure they read it.

This written handout can be laminated and kept someplace like the kitchen or affixed to the laundry room wall. It should explain: 1) what not to put down the kitchen sink, 2) what not to put down the garbage disposal, 3) what not to flush down the toilet, 4) the importance of hair screens in shower and bathroom drains, 5) how to unclog a shower drain full of hair with a Zip-It tool, 6) how to use a plunger, 7) how to shut off the water going to the toilets and sinks, and 8) it should provide directions to the main shutoff valve.

2. Give Your Renters a Tour.

Give your renters a tour and show them where the shutoff valves are for the toilets and sinks and show them where the main shutoff valve is located for the water to the house. In case the water heater or a pipe breaks, they’ll need to know how to shut off the water going to the house.

3. Provide Renters With a Good Plunger of Your Choice.

We know this sounds simple but if you don’t provide a good plunger, your renters could have a toilet clog and not have a plunger on hand. In this case, you could be their first call and you’d prefer them to try to clear the clog first.

4. Have the Plumbing Maintained Annually

Since you own the home, you care about your investment. The best way to prolong the life of your water heater and pipes is to schedule an annual service call with a professional plumber. Annual maintenance may include a drain cleaning and flushing out the water heater, both of which can save you money in the long run.

Should You Have a Clause in the Contract?

Every landlord is different. Some cover all of the costs of plumbing service calls, while others ask that the renters pay for part of the service call; for example, the first $50 or $75.

Sometimes, having a clause in the rental agreement or lease stating the renter is responsible for a portion of the service call can help renters be more responsible in terms of how they take care of the home’s plumbing. In such cases, they often welcome “plumbing tips” and advice from their landlords because they know it can save them money.