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Window Broken – What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible For?

Windows are a crucial part of any rental property, providing light, ventilation, and security. However, windows can become broken due to accidents, weather damage, or even vandalism. When a window is broken, it often falls upon the tenant to repair or replace it. However, there are certain circumstances under which the landlord shares responsibility. This article will provide tenants clarity on when they are liable for window repairs versus when they fall to the landlord.

What Constitutes a “Broken” Window?

Not all window damage is created equal in the eyes of rental law. Minor issues like stuck windows or broken latches generally fall on the tenant to fix. More significant structural damage that inhibits the functionality of the window is the landlord’s duty. Here are some examples of window damage and who is responsible in each scenario:

Tenant Responsibilities:

  • Smashed or cracked glass
  • Broken window latches or hardware
  • Stuck sashes that still close properly

Landlord Responsibilities:

  • Rotting or deteriorated window frames
  • Broken seals causing fogging between panes
  • Large cracks or holes allowing weather or pests inside
  • Windows that cannot be securely closed

The key determiner is if the window still functions properly as a barrier. Damage that allows outdoor elements inside or lacks security typically must be addressed by the landlord.

When Is a Tenant Responsible for Fixing a Broken Window?

In most standard leases, the tenant agrees to properly use rental property features and systems. This includes windows and doors. Tenants also should avoid negligent behaviors that lead to damage.

As a renter, you are generally responsible for correcting and paying for window repairs IF:

  • The window was broken due to misuse or abuse by you or your guests
  • It is a minor issue like cracked glass or broken latches
  • The damage does not severely impact functionality and security

For example, if your child breaks a window by throwing a ball in the home, or you smashed a pane while cleaning, the repair cost falls on you. The same is true if you forced a stuck window and ended up breaking it or if a window lock fails from wear and tear.

However, if damage occurs unexpectedly through no misuse or negligence, it may be the landlord’s duty to repair it. Review your lease to determine where the line is drawn on maintenance responsibilities.

When Must a Landlord Fix a Broken Window?

While tenants are accountable for minimal wear-and-tear issues, landlords are responsible for maintaining safe and habitable living conditions under most state laws. This includes:

  • Ensuring windows are fully functional
  • Making necessary repairs to defects
  • Sealing any gaps, leaks or holes that allow weather or pests inside

Landlords are generally required to provide basic weatherproofing. If a broken window threatens the integrity of the home, compromises heating or cooling efficiency, or allows rodents/insects to enter, the landlord should repair it promptly.

A landlord also assumes responsibility IF:

  • The damage results from structural issues like faulty/rotten frames or broken seals between panes
  • The window was broken due to age/deterioration from normal long-term use
  • The issue arose before you moved in (was not documented properly)

In these cases, you should notify the property manager in writing and give reasonable time to make repairs. Follow up if action isn’t taken promptly while also documenting your efforts.

Replacing a Broken Window

If an entire window requires replacement due to irreparable damage or deterioration, costs and duties vary between tenant and landlord:

Tenant Responsibilities

As tenant, you must replace whole windows if:

  • You or guests intentionally broke the window (outside normal wear/tear)
  • The unit came with pre-existing minor damage that was declared in initial walkthroughs/documentation

DIY replacement is simple for basic single-paned windows measuring standard sizes. Acquire a window identical in dimensions, remove old frame carefully, and install using interior trim nails and exterior weatherproof caulk. Seek professional help for custom-size or modern dual-paned windows.

Landlord Responsibilities

The landlord holds responsibility if window damage results from:

  • Structural issues like leaks or rotting wood frames
  • Normal aging and weather deterioration
  • Pre-existing issues not disclosed properly before move-in

In these cases, contact your property manager promptly in writing. Allow 2-3 weeks for replacement arrival and installation scheduling if extensive ordering is required. Follow up monthly until resolved.

If the landlord fails to replace severely compromised windows after multiple requests, consult local tenant rights laws regarding potential rent withholding or repair and deduct remedies. Get professional assessments proving window damage threatens basic habitability.

Broken Window Replacement Costs

Typical costs to replace a standard 24″ x 36″ double hung window run $150-$500 or more depending on:

  • Single vs double/triple pane glass
  • Basic plastic frame vs wood, vinyl, or metal
  • Custom sizing needs
  • Special features like tinting or tempered glass

Labor will add $100 or more for professional installation help.

As a landlord, window replacement improves home value while retaining ideal rents long-term. As a tenant, properly securing and replacing broken windows keeps your family safe and comfortable while meeting lease obligations.

Broken Window Repair vs Full Replacement

Should you repair a broken window or replace it entirely? Consider:

Repair makes sense if:

  • Only the glass pane itself is cracked, not the framing
  • Locks and openings function properly when secured
  • No gaps/holes allow weather/pests inside when closed
  • No evidence of rot, mold or leaks are visible

Full replacement is best if:

  • Frames show signs of interior rot or deterioration
  • There is a broken seal causing fogging between dual panes
  • Latches/openings no longer seal or lock properly when shut
  • Caulking/weatherstripping gaps fail to keep drafts out

Evaluate both the glass itself AND the frames/mechanisms carefully before deciding between repair or replacement. Seek professional assessments as needed.

Understanding Professional Window Repair Services

When facing a window breakage, it’s essential to know when to call in professional window repair services. Understanding the types of services available and what they entail can help you make an informed decision, whether you’re a tenant dealing with a minor crack or a landlord addressing a significant break-in.

When to Call a Professional Glazier

A professional glazier should be contacted in the following scenarios:

  • Large Cracks and Shattered Panes: If the damage includes large cracks or shattered pieces, it’s crucial to involve a professional. They have the necessary tools and expertise to handle the sharp shards safely and ensure a secure replacement.
  • Complex Window Types: For double pane windows, sliding doors, or tempered glass, professional skills are required to ensure proper installation and safety.
  • Security Concerns: In cases of break-ins or vandalism, a professional service not only replaces the glass but can also recommend enhanced security measures like safety glass or additional locks.

What to Expect from a Window Repair Service

Here’s a step-by-step insight into what a window repair job entails:

  1. Assessment and Quote: The service team assesses the damage, takes measurements, and provides a cost estimate.
  2. Choosing the Right Glass: Based on your window type, whether it’s a sash window in an old building or a modern double-pane unit, the right kind of glass needs to be selected.
  3. Removal and Replacement: The team will carefully remove broken pieces, ensuring safety and cleanliness. They then install the new pane, securing it in place.
  4. Sealing and Finishing: The new pane is sealed for weatherproofing and energy efficiency. The area is cleaned up, leaving no traces of the repair job.

Safety and Security Considerations

Safety is paramount during window repairs. Professional services ensure that:

  • Sharp Shards are Safely Handled: The team will use gloves and safety equipment to handle broken glass.
  • Secure Installation: Ensuring the window is properly fixed to prevent future breaks or security vulnerabilities.
  • Weatherproofing: Proper sealing to prevent drafts and rain from entering, contributing to energy efficiency.

Tips for Choosing a Window Repair Service

  • Look for Experience and Reputation: Choose a company with a solid track record and positive customer reviews.
  • Check for Licensing and Insurance: Ensure the service is licensed and insured to protect against any mishaps during the repair.
  • Compare Quotes: Get quotes from multiple services to find the best price and quality balance.

Emergency Services

In cases of immediate security concerns, such as after a break-in or severe weather damage, look for services offering emergency repairs. They can provide quick, temporary solutions like boarding up the window with plywood or plastic sheeting before permanent repairs.


Dealing with a broken window as a tenant can be inconvenient, costly and compromises security if left unaddressed. Know whether you or your landlord holds responsibility based on the origin and severity of damage. Follow proper protocols in requesting owner repairs for habitability issues beyond normal wear and tear. Stay mindful of all lease clauses regarding proper usage and liability for home systems on the tenant side. Maintain clear communication and documentation throughout the repair process. Understanding broken window protocol protects both tenant and landlord rights in any rental property.


What are some common ways windows get broken in rental homes?

Most residential window damage comes from:

  • Accidental human causes like sports balls hitting the glass
  • Extreme weather events like hail storms or fallen tree debris
  • Attempted break-ins to gain entry
  • Structural shifting issues over time leading to cracked seals
  • Gradual wear-and-tear deterioration of frames and seals

Tenants should avoid placing items near windows that can break glass easily if knocked over. Report any attempted burglaries promptly for police records and inform landlords about weather damage right away as well. Document all pre-existing window flaws thoroughly at move-in too.

How long does a landlord have to replace a broken window?

Every state has different official timelines, but most mandate window repairs affecting habitability within 2-3 weeks after written notification from tenants. Follow up if no action occurs by 14 days. With written requests submitted, tenants often have legal rights to hire independent contractors for repair deductions ifwait times extend past 30 days with no resolution.

Can I withhold rent if my landlord refuses to fix a severely broken window?

If broken windows compromise living conditions through weather or pest intrusion, tenants in most states can legally withhold rent after proper written notice to landlords goes ignored beyond reasonable repair timeframes. However documentation from contractors proving habitability issues is vital, and rent payments should be set aside monthly until courts can determine next steps. Rent abatement without due process can still prompt evictions, so follow all local tenant rights laws closely. It’s wise to consult housing advocates before taking this serious step.