Tenant vs Landlord: How To Outline Maintenance Responsibilities

One of the biggest challenges facing managing rental properties is how to outline maintenance responsibilities.

At the end of the day, both landlords and tenants are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship. 

Just as a landlord expects the tenant to hold up the end of their rental agreement and pay rent in time, tenants also have certain expectations of their landlord.

Landlords and tenants can have a variety of different arrangements. This article will focus on the managing maintenance part of the equation. More precisely, it will outline common maintenance responsibilities and arrangements between landlords and tenants.

Tenant and landlord maintenance responsibilities

Plumbing, heating, and air conditioning

The landlord should ensure that the HVAC system is running efficiently. The heating system should be able to provide heat during the winter months while the air conditioning system should equally work efficiently during the summer.

Any repairs that are associated with these systems are solely the responsibility of the landlord.

On the other hand, tenants are responsible for using these fixtures correctly and reporting any issues to the landlord in order to avoid further damage. 

Smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors

Landlords should ensure that safety features like fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors are not only installed around the property but also work as needed. These maintenance responsibilities typically fall on landlords.

If these safety features are not working properly, tenants have the responsibility of notifying the landlord so that they can conduct repairs as needed. 

Management of known toxins

According to federal law, landlords must warn tenants of the presence of toxins such as mold, asbestos, and lead paint dust. This is because they pose a health danger to the tenant. 

In the leasing agreement, tenants may be required to use ventilation systems to clean mold in case any of it is discovered during their tenancy period. 


All appliances listed in the rental agreements should be kept in working order. This is the sole responsibility of the landlord. However, if the appliance is not listed in the rental agreement, the landlord doesn’t technically have to repair it.

If the tenant causes damage to the appliances in any way whatsoever, then the landlord may deduct a specified amount of money from their security deposit to facilitate the repairs. 

Pest control

If there is an infestation on the property then landlords should take responsibility for pest control. As a matter of fact, they should put regular preventive measures in place in order to stay on top of any pest issues. 

If a tenant reports an issue with pests then the landlord should respond to it as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, tenants have the responsibility of maintaining a sanitary environment so as to keep pests at bay. 

If an infestation of pests occurs because the tenant does not keep the environment clean, then the landlord may deduct the amount paid for extermination from the tenant’s security deposit per the lease.

Common areas

The landlord should keep all the common areas of a residential property clean and safe. This is inclusive of staircases, the gym area, pool area, and elevators. 

If the tenancy lease outlines any common area tenant cleaning responsibilities, then the landlord should help the tenant go about it in the best way possible. 

Exceptions To The Rule

Waste management

When waste is left in a property for a long period of time then it invites problems like pests, mold, and an unappealing smell.

As tenants are in the property more than landlords, they should ensure that they take out the trash regularly.

However, they can only do this when landlords provide a single point of waste disposal. If tenants are responsible for their own trash then they should be notified in their welcome letter or lease agreement. 

In other cases, landlords can choose to be responsible for waste management. They may liaise with a garbage collection service to ensure that the garbage is collected on specific days of the week.


Typically, landscaping is the responsibility of either the landlord or the tenant, depending on the lease agreement. 

Landscaping only becomes the responsibility of the landlord if it violates the homeowner’s association rules or violates local laws.  

This is because the homeowner’s association typically covers landscaping costs. As such, the landlord should not ask the tenant to be responsible for landscaping if this is the case.

Knowing Your Responsibilities 

When it comes to knowing landlord maintenance responsibilities vs tenant responsibilities, it can be tricky to know who owns what. However, by outlining maintenance responsibilities in your lease, it will hopefully avoid some confusion.

This way, both parties can find ways to keep the property in tip-top shape at all times. 

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.