As the landlord, you’re legally bound to take care of property maintenance, most especially before putting your property on the market.
You are expected to fulfil what we call “The Implied Warranty of Habitability."
If you’ve been in the rental business for quite some time, this is probably one of the first things that you have looked into when you started.
But if you’re new and currently in the planning stage, in a nutshell, you must provide a liveable space to your tenants. Even if you did not promise this, tenants are entitled to it.
So basically, your properties should be able to comply with the list below to be considered liveable:
- Strong structure
- Good electrical and plumbing system
- Working heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems
- Mold, lead, and asbestos-free
- And lastly, safe
You can read more about the Implied Warranty of Habitability in detail at What Makes a Rental Property Habitable.
If you’ve noticed, most of the items on the list are maintenance concerns, and you as the property owner are required to keep the space in top condition. Depending on the size, the number of residents in a single unit, and considering the season, a property may require more constant maintenance.
What’s required of the landlords vary in each state, but in general, according to the landlord-tenant law, you should:
- Provide tenants with bins for proper trash disposal suitable for the number of residents in the property.
- Provide access to running water. Also, the toilet, shower, and sink must be functional and there should be a water heater available.
- Follow building codes. This mostly covers the factors that make a property liveable.
- Maintain common areas and perform repairs as needed.
So you know all these now, but did you know that your tenants are also required to help with your property’s maintenance? After all, they are living in your property, so certain maintenance responsibilities fall on their hands.
Same with the landlord’s legal responsibilities, it also differs in each state, but generally, tenants should:
- Keep the unit clean to avoid pest infestations and air pollution within the property.
- Make sure that they do not block emergency exits, so these are accessible when they're needed.
- Not tamper with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Keep moisture out to avoid mold growth. It’s as simple as opening windows or exhaust fans in areas that get a lot of moisture.
- Inform you of any plans to repaint the property or drill into the wall, especially if the property was built before 1978 to not disturb potential lead paint hazards. It is, likewise, your responsibility to inform them of this hazard if your property falls under the category.
- Maintain plumbing fixtures. Major maintenance is shouldered by you, but tenants should, at least, not throw tissue paper or sanitary napkins or the like so it won’t clog.
- Operate the plumbing, air-conditioning and electrical systems properly, so they don’t damage it.
- Take care of appliances that came with the property by using them for their intended purposes and keeping them clean.
- Respect their neighbors’ peace, quiet and not to mention, privacy.
- Refrain from conducting illegal activities in the property, so you won’t get dragged into legal issues.
- Avoid causing damage to the property. You know what to do as an adult, but if you have pets or young children who might accidentally drop or break something, make sure that you keep your eye on them.
- Be respectful of the property in general. They are paying to live there, but it is still fair that they treat it with care and keep it clean.
Make sure you discuss this with the prospective tenants before they sign the lease to be sure that you’re on the same page and both of you can manage your expectations.
If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!