Are you confident in your knowledge of which responsibilities are yours and which are the tenant or renter’s? If not, it’s important to get these details straight (assuming they aren’t spelled out in the lease) so that you can avoid as many confrontations as possible if a related issue arises.
Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?
“While most maintenance responsibility lies on the side of the property manager or landlord, there are still responsibilities that renters must follow up on.” If they don’t know that they are responsible for certain things, then those things may never get addressed, or will only be brought up once damage has been done. Ideally, you would have included these duties in the lease.
Negligence on the part of either party is likely to end up with some kind of damage to the unit. For example, if a tenant or renter doesn’t know that they have to cover the cost of something that is broken in the bathroom, then they may learn that, be unwilling to pay, and there could be water damage as a result. Nobody like surprise costs, so try to get all of these details hammered out before they even move in. If you don’t let them know what is a tenant responsibility and what is for you to deal with, then you can hardly expect them to take care of these situations.
Typically, “while tenants are not responsible for normal wear and tear or household maintenance issues, it is important to be able to fully differentiate” between situations in order to determine who is ‘responsible’ for the repairs. There is often overlap, too, which makes the entire process that much more difficult. When it comes to utilities, like heating, cooling, and plumbing, the landlord has the responsibility to make sure the systems are functional at the beginning. The tenant, then, is supposed to alert management, or maintenance, if there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The sooner someone can come to address the issue, the less its impact will be.
Have you considered the smoke detectors? You are required to have them installed and functional by law, but tenants should be aware they they hold the responsibility for replacing batteries and testing out these systems to ensure that they are functioning from month to month. These alarms are critical to everyone’s safety, so this is something you don’t want to leave out of your leases.
“Federal law dictates that the landlord must warn the tenant of the presence of lead paint dust, asbestos and mold in the rental property and that the landlord must manage such toxins to ensure they do not pose a health danger to the tenant.” This may be something you haven’t considered, or something that seems obvious, however, it’s a crucial detail.
Nobody wants to think about rodents and bugs infesting a property, but it does happen, particularly in certain city areas. While tenant responsibility includes keeping their unit clean to discourage the appearance of such pests, landlords are the ones who have to find a way to remove these irritations should they arrive. If it’s a sanitation issue that encouraged the pests, an issue brought on by the tenant, then they can be held responsible for the cost of extermination. Again, though, this is the sort of thing that should be included in the original lease.
Finally: landscaping and common areas. Outdoor spaces are managed different depending on the property. For example, an apartment building would be the responsibility of the building’s maintenance or grounds crew, while some other types call on the renter to handle such maintenance. If dead leaves in the fall aren’t cleaned up, for example, it could pose a fire hazard. If snow isn’t plowed, then it becomes a hassle for those who have to drive to work. There are a dozen scenarios that could arise having to do with landscaping, but this is a subject highly dependent on the property type.
Landlord versus tenant responsibility is an important issue to consider. In fact, there is a lot that you as a property manager have to keep in mind, and not only when drawing up a lease. Let Budgetrac Property Management Software help you out with some of those tasks. Budgetrac can accommodate nearly any kind of lease so that you can increase operational efficiency and focus on some of your other duties. You stand to gain a valuable, technical ally, so what are you waiting for?