I have a rental property in Austin, TX that I have rented out to a single tenant. My tenant frequently reaches out to me with various requests, worried something is wrong with the home that can affect her health and safety. She is a senior citizen and lives by herself.

The best example I have are gas leaks. I have been asked multiple times to call contractors because my tenant believed she smelled gas in the home and every single time no leak was found. Unfortunately, I am left with a service call fee (for instance, $150), which I have been refusing to pay with the grounds that nothing was found in the home. My tenant is losing her patience with me because she believes I have no concern for her health and safety. I am losing my patience with her because she is mistakenly believing there is something wrong with the home and I have become financially responsible for her peace of mind, when all the equipment is functioning correctly.

My tenant has had four contractor visits in the last 6 months for gas leaks without any leaks being found in the home.

I would particularly like to know about the law. It sounds counter-intuitive to me that I have to pay out of pocket for any troubleshooting expenses of such sort, especially when they are reocurring. On top of that, I would like to know the best and common practices by other landlords in the US.

  • You might also call a local property management company and see if they have any advice. They have certainly dealt with these types of situations. You also may find it's cheaper to pay them to deal with these situations that to find contractors yourself.
    – D Stanley
    Mar 24, 2022 at 15:00
  • Not a legal answer, just an idea: would your tenant be put at ease if you installed a combustible gas detector? It looks like you can get a good plug-in model for less than the cost of a service call. Mar 25, 2022 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


The landlord's obligation is to effect necessary repairs that impinge on dwelling safety. If you do comply with that requirement, tenant can sue you. §Sec. 92.056 of the residential tenancies law spells out the notice requirements imposed on the tenant. As stated in Subchapter B, the tenant bears the burden of proof in any such judicial action, meaning that the tenant must prove that there exists a hazardous condition, also that you did not effect repairs. The law is framed in terms of actual conditions, not allegations of conditions, which means that you are not liable for and required to disprove an allegation (a written notice that "there is no leak" would satisfy the diligence requirement). The part in §92.0561 that allows rent deductions in order to effect repairs only holds when the landlord is liable, which is only true when there is a condition that must be repaired.

  • 1
    if you do NOT comply with that requirement?
    – user253751
    Mar 25, 2022 at 12:05

It sounds counter-intuitive to me that I have to pay out of pocket for any troubleshooting expenses of such sort, especially when they are reocurring.

Consider instructing the tenant to henceforth follow the provisions in chapter 92, sec. 92.0561(d) of the Texas Property Code. If/when a repair is needed, you will need to bear in mind items (d)(2) and (e) for deciding whether you will address the repair or let the tenant handle it and deduct from the rent the applicable expenses (subject to the constraints listed in items (b) and (c)).

In line with section 92.052, you as landlord are responsible for repairing any condition that "materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant", not for the pattern of rather imaginary conditions.


Being a landlord is advertised as "free money", or passive income. It isn't and this is just one pitfall. The key thing is, and you are asking about this, is what does the lease say and what do the local statues state? However finding these answers from a financial site is not the right place. Your question should be re-asked on the law site, and you should also probably consult a lawyer. At least do your own research about local landlord laws.

I am unsure how you are getting away with not paying a contractor that has done work at this home. It is not their fault that no gas leak is found. You asked for work, they did it, and thus should be paid for it. Failure to do so will end up is bad business and can cause you trouble in the future.

When is the lease up. Clearly this tenant should be asked to move on, or have their rent raised so high they have no choice but to do so.

  • 1
    I assumed OP was having the tenant pay for the service calls, but yes, it's unclear.
    – mkennedy
    Mar 24, 2022 at 20:57

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