The onus lies on a landlord to ensure his / her rental property is perfectly maintained, with all necessary repairs carried out on a timely basis, so that the accommodation is habitable and comfortable for the tenant. While, some states have certain rules and regulations in place that govern maintenance of rental properties by their owners, others simply leave it up to the landlord to determine how his / her property should be cared for.
The care and upkeep of rental property falls under two categories i.e. repairs and maintenance.
Repairs: If, anything on the rental property breaks down, malfunctions, or is inoperable, the landlord is responsible for repairing it as quickly as possible. Running / hot water, heating, air-conditioning, proper ventilation are all considered the necessities of daily life, and if there is a fault in the plumbing, the water heater, air-conditioner, etc., the landlord must have them repaired, up and running, so that his / her tenant does not have to be inconvenienced for a longer period of time than is absolutely necessary.
As a rule, a landlord is responsible for repairs, when the damage is not due to any fault of the tenant. Such damage could be anything from the breaking of a water pipe, or a mechanical fault in the water heating system, faults not caused by any direct action of the tenant. And, if the damage is deliberate, a landlord is still held responsible for repairs, billing the tenant later on for damage repairs. For example, if the water heater is knocked over by a tenant beginning to malfunction as a result, since hot water is considered a daily necessity of life, the repair cannot be put off, and it will need to be fixed, as soon as possible, despite the tenant being unable to pay at the time. At first, a landlord may end up covering repair or replacement costs, but later on, he / she can work out a repayment schedule with the tenant to recover costs. Similarly, if any structural damage is caused to your property, determine who or what caused it, and if it was the tenant, even though they are responsible for paying for the repairs, it is still up to the landlord to coordinate them.
Sometimes, a tenant may attempt to fix a problem, instead of informing you of it right away, and may deduct repair costs from the rent. Whatever, you allow your tenants to do, ensure they are aware you should be notified immediately, if any damage or accidents occur on your property. Obviously, if you are not aware of damage to your rental unit, how else can you meet a landlord’s obligations for providing safe and functional accommodation to his / her tenants?
All appliances provided in rental accommodations, such as, cooking range, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. are typically a landlord’s responsibility. It is for you to ensure they function properly, repairing them when they malfunction or break down. Always, it is a good idea to include a clause in the rental agreement limiting your responsibility to normal repair or replacement, unless of course, a tenant damages the appliance.
Maintenance: The general upkeep and property maintenance is a landlord’s responsibility, solely. Maintenance could be anything from keeping the lawn mowed to replacing the roof. In case, you want your tenants to be actively involved in the up-keep of your property, such as, snow removal or mowing the grass, it should be stated clearly in the tenant’s written rental or lease agreement to avoid later confusion over tenant duties.
If a landlord agrees, some tenants may be prepared to handle general property maintenance in lieu of a reduction in rent, surely, a relatively cheap and efficient way to maintain property, if it is the only one you have. You can go in for this arrangement after weighing the frequency of required property maintenance to determine the rental discount.
In case of several rental properties, if you do not have the time to provide necessary repairs and maintenance, why not outsource these duties. Contact a property management company skilled in providing these services, or hire a maintenance worker. For large apartment complexes, you can also provide living arrangements for the property caretaker or repairman to ensure problems are handled in a timely fashion.
Proper preventive maintenance will ensure your rental property does not require excessive repairs, over time. However, always be prepared to deal with any necessary repairs or maintenance problems.
And, the right questions asked on your rental applications will assist in selecting the best and most suitable applicants for your property, clients who will respect, look after your property and limit the damage to only wear and tear. For suitable tenants, visit www.e-renter.com for help with tenant screening and background checks, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.