One of the advantages of renting is many of the repairs and renovations fall under landlord maintenance responsibilities. If something goes wrong, the tenant can usually put in a call or request to a landlord, property manager, or designated maintenance personnel to help get their maintenance issues resolved.
But that’s not to say renters have absolutely no maintenance responsibilities. There are many things that they are solely accountable for. Nevertheless, without informing yourself, it’s tough knowing where the duties of landlords end and those of tenants start.
In this article, we outline landlord maintenance responsibilities vs. tenant maintenance responsibilities that are typically found in leases.
Responsibilities of Tenants
It may seem unbelievable, but there are, in fact, tenants who are utterly oblivious that certain aspects of rental maintenance are theirs to handle. To avoid misunderstandings, landlords are advised to disclose all upkeep responsibilities while discussing the rental agreement. Tenants should be able to abide by those and thus, keep the property in pristine condition.
If you happen to be someone that’s already dealt with renting, you are probably already aware of which parts of maintenance you may be responsible for.
The good news is that if you had to downsize for any reason, you’ll most certainly have an easier time keeping up the maintenance responsibilities in the new, smaller place when compared to your old one.
Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities vs. Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities
Let’s dive deeper into what falls under landlord maintenance responsibilities, and what falls under the tenant’s responsibilities.
As not all properties are the same, it’s natural for these liabilities to differ from one place to the other. State laws can also dictate that certain rental property upkeep falls under landlord maintenance responsibilities.
Despite some differences, the rule of thumb suggests that it’s up to tenants to finance and handle any damages they cause—be that a broken window, broken appliances, and so on.
At the same time, however, not theirs to deal with are structural issues or roof repair. Should any of those need tending to, informing the landlord or a property manager is an absolute must!
It’s not entirely realistic to expect renters to keep the place spotless all the time. It is, nevertheless, important to discuss the topic of waste management with them. Properly disposing of the waste is imperative as it prevents potential pest infestations and, therefore, additional problems.
Outlining your waste management policies in a lease addendum can help enforce compliance to keeping the rental property clean and pest-free.
HVAC Maintenance and Plumbing
HVAC maintenance typically falls under landlord responsibilities. It’s entirely theirs to check whether the whole system is working properly and, if not, to find the right people to repair it.
As far as tenant obligations go in terms of heating, air conditioning, and plumbing, in most cases, property occupants are supposed to use these as per instructions. The rental agreement could also potentially require them to replace the air filters every once in a while and make sure the pipes are clear. Should the latter get clogged due to a mistake of a renter, it is them who will be held responsible.
Maintenance of Safety Features
Make sure you and your landlord are on the same page in terms of maintaining safety features. These could include various things, with the typical ones being fire alarms, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors.
Considering safety is of the highest importance, any malfunctions of this kind must be tackled urgently! Make sure anything that could turn into a larger problem is noted on the rental inspection checklist—by either landlord or tenant.
Maintenance responsibilities of security features are almost entirely in the hands of owners. Should repair or replacement be in order, they are best left to landlords to take care of. On the other hand, renters may be required per contract to replace batteries (in the smoke alarm, for example) every now and then.
The landlord must inform the renter of the presence of anything toxic, for example, mold and asbestos. It’s, then, up to them to neutralize these to ensure they no longer pose a health threat. At the same time, if mold or any toxins appear during tenancy, cleaning them is considered the renter’s obligation.
If the property comes equipped with appliances, chances are the rental agreement says the owner is in charge of keeping them in working order. Still, should the occupants be the culprit to their damage, the landlord is 100% allowed to ask them to fix or replace the faulty appliances. If they refuse, deducting the appropriate amount from the security deposit is also an option.
Dealing with Pest Infestations
Does the place have a bad case of pest infestation? If the tenant caused it due to unsanitary ways of living, they might very well say goodbye to a part of their security deposit. Considering the fundamental maintenance responsibility of a renter is to keep the place clean – or clean enough – there’s no reason to be surprised here.
On the contrary, if tenants have absolutely nothing to do with the infestation, the extermination & cleaning most likely are landlord maintenance responsibilities.
Anyone from the landlord, property manager, or tenant could be in charge of landscaping. It all depends on how it was specified in the agreement. However, in some instances, landscaping is the sole responsibility of a landlord. This can be seen in situations when a garden left unattended violates local laws.
In contrast, if the landlord has assigned landscaping duty to a tenant that fails to comply – well, any fines received become theirs to cover.
Maintenance of Common Areas
It’s under owner obligations to keep commonly used areas not only clean but also safe. They should provide tenants with a place to dispose of trash and arrange for its pickup. Elevator upkeep is considered one of the landlord’s maintenance responsibilities as well.
As for tenants—well, theirs is simply to follow the instructions in terms of cleaning up. They should never leave a mess behind them! Furthermore, if common areas include a gym, using the equipment correctly is a requirement!