If you own a rental property of any kind, you know that regular maintenance is essential in both keeping the home in great condition, keeping it rent ready, and following landlord-tenant laws. Whether you own an apartment building or a single-family home, every property needs to be fully functional and habitable to your tenants.
Below, we at MN Property Nerds have provided a guide to help you understand your legal responsibilities as a landlord, in addition to what responsibilities you can expect of your tenants.
Based on landlord-tenant laws, landlords are responsible for keeping their rental properties maintained for their tenants. These requirements may differ from state to state, but here are some of the basic rules:
Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that their tenants have a place to dispose of their garbage. The number and size of the trash bins provided must be adequate for the number of tenants living on the property and the frequency of trash collection.
Every tenant must have access to running water in their home. This includes a shower, sink, and functioning toilet. Additionally, a functioning water heater must be provided so the tenant can use hot water.
Landlords are required to provide tenants with a healthy, safe, and habitable home. These requirements include having a limit to how many tenants can occupy a property and providing smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
Additionally, a landlord must maintain the plumbing and electrical work, and the structural integrity of the property. This also includes adequately handling any mold, lead paint, asbestos, or pest issues.
Landlords must ensure that all common areas of the property are clean and safe. For example, stairs must have a stable banister, and flooring must not cause any tripping hazards.
Reasonable and necessary repairs must be made by the landlord to ensure the home stays habitable. If the repairs are due to the tenant neglecting or abusing the property, the landlord can charge them the cost of the repairs.
A landlord must ensure that plumbing, heating, electrical, gas, and supplied appliances are all functional. If the tenant is responsible for utility bills, then it is their job to pay them on time so their water and electricity don’t get turned off.
While most tenants are aware of the landlord’s responsibilities in regard to maintaining the property, they may not know they also have many legal responsibilities as stated by landlord-tenant law.
Again, these requirements may differ depending on the state you live in, but these are the general responsibilities of the tenant.
Tenants must properly dispose of all trash and not allow it to build up on the property. Excessive garbage is a health hazard and can result in many unfortunate consequences such as pest infestations and breathing issues. The tenant has a responsibility to keep the property reasonably clean at all times.
Tenants are required to ensure all emergency exits are free of restrictions and accessible. Additionally, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must always have batteries that may never be tampered with by the tenant.
Tenants must always follow all building and housing laws. For example, if they have signed a lease for 2 tenants, they must not try to sneak in anymore, as too many tenants in a rental unit can result in many safety hazards.
It is a tenant’s responsibility to prevent moisture from accumulating in the home and causing mold. If the tenant starts to notice mold that they can’t clean on the property, they must inform the landlord immediately.
If the rental property was built before 1978, landlords can request that tenants must ask for permission before doing anything that may disturb potential lead paint. This can include activities like drilling a hole in the wall to hang something or repainting a room.
Tenants must treat the rental property with care and respect at all times. This means maintaining a reasonable level of cleanliness, and not neglecting or abusing the property. However, wear and tear are acceptable.
This includes using all appliances for their intended purpose, taking care of the plumbing fixtures, and not causing any damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. Additionally, appliances supplied by the landlord must be kept clean and in good condition.
As a landlord, you are able to negotiate with your tenants to conduct seasonal maintenance on the property. This typically involves the exterior of the home and can include things like cutting grass, shoveling snow, raking leaves, and cleaning gutters.
It is possible to negotiate for a tenant to take out the garbage on the property and bring the trash bins back inside once the garbage has been collected. This can be especially helpful if you do not live close to your rental home.
The tenant is responsible for keeping the common areas sanitary. This can include tasks like sweeping, mopping, and keeping the area free of the trash.
It is illegal to put any clauses in your lease agreements that force a tenant to be responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs of the property. However, if a repair is needed due to the tenant damaging or neglecting the home, then it is their responsibility to pay for the repairs.
When consulting with a new property management company, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions. After all, they would be managing your investment, so you need to know they are effective and can grow your investment portfolio.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other aspect of property management, don’t hesitate to contact us at MN Property Nerds today!