I own a small studio apt. in a co-op building located in Brooklyn, NY USA.

My tenant, who's been renting this studio for ~ 3 years, is asking to repair one of the built-in closets.

This closet was fine when this tenant moved in. I made a few repairs to it before signing the lease. Based on the photo they provided, it is very hard to tell whether this problem has been caused by wear-and-tear or any intentional / unintentional damage.

My question is -- Who is responsible for making these repairs?

  • If its the tenant, is there a regulation I can refer to when speaking to the them.
  • If its the landlord, what's stopping the tenant from damaging something else in the house(.e.g kitchen cabinets) and claiming the same story, and how can I protect my property?
  • 2
    "what's stopping the tenant from damaging something else in the house" — common sense. What's in it for the tenant apart from headaches?
    – Greendrake
    Aug 31, 2020 at 3:15
  • Do you have a provision in the contract that specify who is responsible for repairs?
    – gatorback
    Aug 31, 2020 at 7:18
  • @Greendrake Thank you for your comment. To be frank, I am a bit surprised by your faith in human rationale :) I've certainly seen / heard of people do this type of stuff to just annoy their landlords. Aug 31, 2020 at 13:20
  • @gatorback unfortunately, I do not. This is something I am going to include in the next year's contract. Aug 31, 2020 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


Fair wear and tear

Means the normal deterioration of a property from ordinary, everyday use. Exposure to the elements, time, as well as day to day living can cause fair wear and tear. Breakages as a result of normal use are also wear and tear.

Damage is either intentional or a result of usage that is not normal.

So, if the closet has failed through normal use - throwing a wheel on a runner, a hinge or latch breaking in normal use - then it's your responsibility. If it is a result of abnormal use - slamming, continuing to operate when something is clearly wrong - then it's your tenant's responsibility.

However, there are commercial consideration beyond the legal ones. A tenant with a 3-year record of on-time rental payments and no other demands beyond a broken closet? Fix it and keep the tenant happy.

  • 2
    this makes total sense. I was also leaning towards biting the bullet because the tenants has generally paid on time and hasn't been causing other problems. Also, thanks so much for posting the link. Sep 1, 2020 at 19:13

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