Is A Landlord Responsible For A Sewer Backup?


A common problem – and nightmare – for commercial property owners and landlords alike are plumbing issues. It is the system most likely to fail or break down because it involves water, the great destroyer. Particularly troubling for landlords can be sewer backups. Not only are they costly and destructive, but they can also pose health hazards. Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric has been a proud partner of the Lubbock, Texas business community for nearly nine decades, and we know the impact that sewer line clogs and backups can have. Here is some advice for landlords on who is responsible for the backup and how to prevent them in the first place.


The responsibility for a sewer backup is always a tricky question. Should the tenant or landlord be responsible? There are many factors, and these may differ a bit when you are talking about a residential tenant as opposed to a commercial building tenant. Regardless, generally speaking the landlord is most generally held responsible because it is hard to prove the tenant caused the damage, and it is also hard to hold the tenant accountable for the age and condition of the plumbing system. There are some exceptions, most notably in the case of a tenant at a home or apartment where a cleanout reveals that items were sent into the sewer system that should not have been. No matter who’s at fault, though, it is imperative that the tenant immediately inform the landlord and the landlord takes quick action. Any delay can cause not only property destruction, but also possible legal liability.


One of the first things a landlord should do is assess his/her property for potential risks. For starters, ensure that all the systems – from electric to plumbing – have been inspected and are functioning properly. If the property itself is getting old and you have not replaced water pipes, circuit breakers, etc., it is likely time to do so. Paying attention to these matters will not only help prevent a nasty breakdown like a sewer drain backup, but it can also ensure that the property owner is doing all they can to avoid negligence and protect the tenants of the property.


Another way landlords can be proactive to prevent sewer backups and other messy pipe and toilet clogs is to make sure their properties receive regular maintenance, especially after one tenant leaves and before another tenant moves in. Property owners can also give proper notice to tenants of maintenance schedules to ensure that all systems, including plumbing, are properly maintained during the rental period. Give Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric a call today and have our licensed plumbing professionals give your plumbing system a thorough once-over. We offer video inspection cleaning of pipes/drains to help prevent a destructive and potentially hazardous sewer backup. Better Call Armstrong!