With the number of renters on the rise, there’s no better time to be a landlord in the U.S. 2654 people are entering the rental market every day, according to The Rental Protection Agency. When you’re a landlord, maintenance and repair is an ongoing responsibility. But before you start renting your property, it’s important to become aware of the responsibilities both you and your tenants are legally obligated to uphold. While your obligations concern creating a safe and functioning rental for the tenant, the tenant’s responsibilities tend to concern looking after the property they’ve been given.
Your maintenance responsibilities
Your maintenance responsibilities as a landlord are intended to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your tenants. While the legal requirements can vary from state to state, landlords are usually expected to: provide running water, perform necessary repairs, follow building codes, and keep electricity, gas, plumbing and other facilities in working order. If a tenant requires special needs, such as, a wheelchair ramp, you’re legally obligated to allow them to install one.
The tenant’s maintenance responsibilities
Under landlord tenant law, tenants are required to take adequate care of the property. This includes maintaining a decent standard of cleanliness to prevent health hazards and pest infestations. Garbage shouldn’t be allowed to build up; appliances should be clean of excessive grime and grease; plumbing fixtures shouldn’t be allowed to develop grime, rust, and mold. Smoke detectors shouldn’t be tampered with, and emergency exits must always remain accessible.
Tenants must also adhere to building and housing laws. For instance, they mustn't make changes to the property without permission or let more people stay in the property than previously agreed. Doing so can cause fire and safety issues (as well as increase utility bills).
Protecting yourself financially
Your standard homeowners insurance policy usually only covers owner-occupied homes. Alternatively, landlord insurance will protect you financially if your property is damaged or stolen whether by a tenant, intruder, or fire or weather damage. Landlord insurance will reimburse you the cost, as well as provide liability protection if a tenant or visitor is injured due to a maintenance issue.
Above all, ask your tenants to tell you immediately if they need help with repairs or maintenance issues. You should always be ready to respond and help them with issues they can’t deal with. Check your state laws for information on how quickly you need to respond to particular health or safety issues.