A Guide to Landlord-Tenant Responsibilities
Many investors decide to become landlords without considering the extensive responsibilities involved. Some even assume those responsibilities will fall on the tenant. Depending on the laws in your area, you will likely be responsible for keeping your building up to standards that will keep your tenants safe and clean. You will have to respond to requests for maintenance in a length of time that is considered reasonable.
Tenants also have certain responsibilities, which can be determined by the lease contract and also by law.
When deciding to become a landlord, you should first consult an attorney to determine the laws and requirements that affect you and your local area. As a building manager, it will benefit you to discuss how responsibilities are divided with tenants upon move in. This will ensure that expectations are clear.
Note: This article is for educational purposes only. I do not make any guarantees that the responsibilities in this article are compliant with current or local laws. Always consult an attorney in your area.
Responsibilities of the Landlord
In general, a landlord is responsible for keeping their building clean, functioning, and safe. Many areas have codes and laws that specify standards for building construction, standard of living, and maintenance. You can find more specific regulations for your state here.
Ensure habitable conditions
As a landlord, you are expected to check maintenance regularly and repair your property upon demand. In some local areas, there are further requirements including:
● Upkeep of common areas
● Providing receptacle for trash disposal
● Correcting any infestations of vermin or bugs.
● Keeping the property’s structure safe and intact
● All electrical, sanitary, ventilation, plumbing, and other required equipment in order
● Disclosing all history of environmental hazards to tenants
Enforce a quiet environment
Part of your job as a landlord is ensuring that your residents don’t disrupt others. Many include a clause in their lease that requires tenants to maintain a noise level that is reasonable for evening hours with consequences for disturbing other residents.
Provide tenant safety
As a landlord, your responsibility to provide tenants with safety standards can be a legal requirement (depending on the local law). There are many ways you can help ensure your tenant’s safety. Here are a few:
● Screen all prospective tenants. Use an application and background check to screen tenants before move-in. You can also ask for references.
● Always give notice of entry. You must keep units up to standards, but when performing maintenance, you must follow local laws in regards to notice that must be given before entering a unit. Most states have a standard of 24 or 48 hours notice before entering a rental, but requirements can vary in an emergency.
● Maintain building locks. It is important to re-key locks for new tenants, and keep locks on building doors and windows up to date.
● Provide safety equipment. Your building must have functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are in proper condition.
Please review the landlord responsibility standards for your state and local area for further requirements.
Responsibilities of the Tenant
The tenant is usually responsible for ensuring that their unit stays in good condition. They are also expected to report any issues or damages to the landlord. Here are a few responsibilities that often are required of the tenant:
Maintain unit cleanliness
Typically, tenants are responsible for keeping their rental unit clean and sanitary, including:
● Discarding trash
● Preventing the growth of mold
● Preventing excessive buildup of dirt, rust, scum, and grime on surfaces
● Maintaining appliances
Avoid excessive damages
Tenants should avoid causing damage to their unit. While a certain level of wear and tear is expected, the property should be maintained at the condition level at the time of move-in. Some local laws enforce tenant liability in cases such as:
● Removal of fixtures
● Violation of occupancy rules
● Blocking emergency exits
● Damage caused by fire
● Tampering of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
● Using premises for unlawful purposes
● Damage from pet violations
Report issues in a timely fashion
Tenants are required to let their building manager know about any required maintenance as soon as possible. If there is an issue that the tenant fails to report to the landlord, they may be liable for further damage.
Landlords should conduct a walk-through with tenants before move-in to acknowledge any issues or necessary repairs, and document current conditions. It is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain a copy of their checklist in order to avoid any liability at the end of their lease term. Many damage charges that fall outside the scope of wear and tear can often be covered by a security deposit.
Consult laws for your local area for further tenant responsibilities. - Steven Taylor, Landlord in LA