This, the second part of our series on The Responsibilities of a Landlord focuses on maintenance and repair. Landlords are expected to maintain a “habitable” environment for their tenants–a place that is “fit to live in” because it is clean, free from hazards, and compliant with state and local law. All of the vital services of the property, such as running water and electricity, should operate as intended.
Landlords Keep the Place Clean
Common household responsibilities like cleaning the bathroom and taking out the trash rest on the tenant. Here are some cleaning tasks that the landlord is expected to accomplish:
- Hiring a trash service and having an obvious place and time when trash is collected
- Cleaning and maintaining common areas, indoor and out
- Ridding the property of any rodents, roaches or other pests and keeping them out
- Removing any mold that has accumulated and stopping any leaks that may be causing mold to grow
Landlords Protect Their Tenants From Disaster
Tenant safety should be of the utmost concern to a landlord. Here is a list of “shoulds” for protecting tenants from robbery, fire, slips, falls, and more:
- Windows and doors should be secured with working locks and the front door should have a deadbolt
- No one but the landlord and the tenant should have a set of keys
- Unsupervised plumbers or repairment should not be allowed on premise
- Tenants who are sharing facilities should be properly screened for criminal activity
- No more than the maximum number of people per bedroom or square feet should be allowed to rent together
- Dangerous breeds of animals should not be allowed
- Both indoor and outdoor areas should be well-lit and free of hazards like broken steps or unstable handrails
- Walking and driving areas should be shoveled and salted after snow in accordance with state law
- Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed correctly and at the correct number per floor per state code
- Lead paint hazards should be removed
- The house should be weatherproof, structurally-sound, kept up to state building codes, and inspected before each new tenant
Landlords Are Repairmen
Landlords are repairmen, and expected to respond to repair requests quickly, even if the tenant calls at 2:00 AM! When a tenant’s heat goes out in the winter, they are not going to be happy. It is safest to respond to any repair request–whether it be a heat outage, leaky roof, or clogged drain–within 24 hours. Landlords must make the decision to fix the issue themselves, hire a contractor, or reach an agreement with the tenant to make the repairs for less rent that month. Landlords are not required to make repairs that are the fault of the tenant due to an accident or negligence.
Landlords operate as on-call, full-service maintenance and repair providers for their tenants. To learn more about the expectations for landlords, read our first blog in this series, The Responsibilities of a Landlord Part 1. If you are a landlord who is unenamored with your responsibilities, pass them off to a trusted property management company!