What to Know About Landlord Vs. Tenant Responsibilities

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 15, 2023

In an ideal world, the relationship between a landlord and tenants is seamless and professional. Each party understands the part they play in making sure the rental property is operating and maintained as expected. However, situations may occur in which either party thinks it’s up to the other to have the issue resolved. As a landlord, it’s important to understand what your responsibilities are, versus what your tenants’ responsibilities are in order to keep everything running smoothly.

Keep reading for what to know about landlord and tenant responsibilities.

Photo: Pexels

Maintenance

One of the biggest things that may come up as a dispute of landlord and tenant responsibilities is maintenance. Who is responsible for making sure that maintenance issues are taken care of in a timely manner? Who is responsible for covering maintenance work?

In general, maintenance work is going to be the landlord’s responsibility. This especially applies to issues that pertain to the overall property, and its ability to safely house tenants. Plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and lock maintenance are going to typically going to be your responsibility as a landlord. Whether you have an on-site maintenance staff to carry out the work or trusted third-party vendors, you know any maintenance work will be done to your expectations.

At the end of the day, your rental property was not always inhabited by your current tenant. and everything was likely not brand new when they moved in. Normal wear-and-tear is to be expected, and as a landlord, routinely replacing appliances and fixing things up around the property is to be expected. As your tenant reports any maintenance issues, make sure that you and your team are responding in a timely manner. You don’t want a small leak to escalate into a total flood or mold issue that could have been easily avoided.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the tenant isn’t responsible for doing their own due diligence in maintaining the property during their lease. This includes following the lease agreement to minimize any potential property damages. Make sure your rental agreement outlines if and how the tenant is responsible for tenant-caused damages.

While you may be responsible for resolving maintenance issues that pop up, your tenant is responsible for doing their best to prevent them and doing their part to report them as soon as possible to prevent them from escalating further.

Common areas 

Depending on how large your rental property is, you may have plenty of common areas spread throughout the property. This can include anything from hallways between units to amenities like pools, lounges, gyms, and laundry rooms. While all tenants make use of these spaces on a daily basis, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure that the common areas are maintained for everyone to enjoy.

You can have clauses in your rental agreement that outline tenants’ expected use of common areas, but with so many tenants using these common areas, it may be difficult to pinpoint responsibility for possible damages to any one tenant. Tenants can report any issues that they see pop up, but you and your staff should be routinely checking up on areas to see if any maintenance work is needed.

This also includes landscaping around the property to ensure everything is routinely taken care of.

Utilities

Utilities and who is in charge of paying them are often at the center of the discussion of landlord vs tenant responsibilities. Some landlords opt to pay for all utilities in favor of higher monthly rent or leave all utilities to be paid by the tenant. Some landlords will pay for some utilities, and then leave the remaining to be paid by the tenant. Each situation comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Covering the costs of utilities yourself can give you the peace of mind that they are paid on time and in full while having the tenants pay for utilities can make them responsible for their individual utility usage.

Whatever the situation is for your rental property, make sure that your tenant is fully aware of the responsibilities around utility. Make sure your lease agreement clearly outlines who is responsible for what so that it does not get dragged into a dispute later on.

While this information speaks generally about landlord and tenant responsibilities, make sure that you are still following your own local laws pertaining to tenant rights when operating your rental property. At a minimum, it is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that your rental property is safe and inhabitable for tenants – if you do expect additional responsibilities from your tenant, make sure that your lease agreement accurately reflects them.

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