When it comes to property maintenance, property owners and tenants each have responsibilities. In order to sensibly communicate who takes care of what, a variety of items should be outlined in writing when the lease is signed. No one likes to assume the other party is responsible for something, and then find out they should have taken care of the situation themselves.
One of the primary benefits of being a tenant is to defer home maintenance to the property owner or management company. It is the responsibility of the investor or homeowner to keep the home and its appliances in good working condition and keep up with most property maintenance. However, there are some minor responsibilities tenants must assume that should be outlined in the lease.
Here are some property responsibilities to include in writing up front to verify both landlord and tenant are clear on who handles which issues.
Property Owner Responsibilities
When tenants move out of a property, understand that normal wear and tear are not avoidable, so they are the property owner’s responsibility to deal with. However, if damage is discovered, or if it was left without being reasonably cleaned, the expense needed to repair or clean should be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit.
Tenants may not realize their part of the responsibility in keeping your property maintained, so set tenants up for success by going over details with them at the lease signing—and in writing. By including these details in the lease, you have opened the door to good communication and outlined your expectations of tenants. You now have leverage if the tenant doesn’t uphold his or her end of the agreement. If a tenant chooses to damage your property and thinks he won’t have to pay for the repairs, you can go back to the written document or lease agreement and justify charging them for the repairs.
A. Major repairs are your financial responsibility. For example:
- Roof leaks, you need to repair or replace it.
- Foundation cracks, you are required to repair it.
- If any major maintenance needs pop up, property owners need to address them to prevent additional damage and to maintain the safety of the home.
- It is the property owner’s responsibility to keep the heating and air conditioning units in good working order at all times.
- All the plumbing in the property should be working well and is the responsibility of the property owner.
- Keep the property toxin-free for the health and safety of tenants. The property should be free of lead, asbestos, and mold.
B. Minor seasonal/routine maintenance is your responsibility as well. Such as:
- Either replacing air filters monthly or entrusting your tenant with a supply of air filters so they can replace them monthly to simplify the process.
- Providing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and keeping them in good working order with batteries up-to-date. Verify regularly they are working well, and replace as needed for the safety of tenants and your property.
C. Determine who is responsible for certain maintenance and repairs with the lease agreement. For example:
- If some appliances are part of the rental agreement, keep them in good working order.
- Landscaping responsibilities should be discussed. They can be delegated to the property manager, owner, or tenant.
D. When it comes to the common area of multi-unit properties, property owners are responsible to keep those areas:
- In good repair (elevators)
- With appropriate trash containers and regular trash pickup
A. Keep the property clean to avoid unnecessary pest infestation. For Example:
- Dispose of trash properly.
- Keep countertops and surfaces tidy and free from food debris.
- Avoid clutter along baseboards where pest can hide and scurry about without being seen.
B. Avoid deliberate or negligent damage to the property. For Example:
- It’s not appropriate to puncture drywall in the home’s interior.
C. Inform your landlord of needed repairs in a timely fashion.
- If the property floods due to the hot water heater rusting out or bursting, it’s critical that immediate action is taken in order to minimize damage and get things back into working condition within the residence.
- If a pipe bursts, let the property owner know promptly.
- When an appliance acts up and it belongs to the landlord, communicate the problem as soon as possible to minimize the inconvenience.
- Inform your landlord of any mold growing on the property, and use proper ventilation to discourage mold growth in moist rooms like bathrooms.
D. Return the property in the same condition it was in when you first moved into it.
- Leave the property clean and free from damage so you aren’t charged for the condition in which you left it.
E. Understand that if you cause property damage, you are responsible for financing the repairs. For example:
- Broken windows
- Punctures or holes in the drywall
- Excessive carpet damage
F. Some maintenance/repair responsibilities will be subject to the lease agreement, such as:
- Some tenants replace air filters regularly at the direction of the property owner (see above).
- If the lease includes appliances and you damage them, you are financially responsible to repair them.
- Landscaping responsibilities should be discussed prior to signing a lease.
G. When it comes to the common area of multi-unit properties be aware of community guidelines.
- Do not misuse equipment in common areas such as a workout facility or pool.
- You are responsible to clean up after themselves on the property.
Some property maintenance is shared between landlords and tenants, and some is delegated to each party. The main thing is to clearly outline the details in the lease agreement prior to a tenant’s occupancy.
Are you looking for residential property to lease and can’t find what you’re looking for? See our rental listings, then tell us what you need in a home. We’ll do the legwork and help you with all the lease agreement details.