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Tenant Vs. Landlord Responsibilities

Many tenants relish in the low maintenance living that living in a rental property offers; a burst pipe or a broken appliance is easy for tenants to address by simply informing their property managers. This large convenience in combination with the amenities that apartment living can offer, are causing many adults to delay housing purchases in favor of the renter lifestyle.


While most maintenance responsibility lies on the side of the property manager or landlord, there are still responsibilities that renters must follow up on. Tenants should be expected to keep the property clean, dispose of refuse, and avoid damaging the property through negligence or negligence.


Ensuring Tenant Understanding:


Even though most lease agreements list renters responsibilities, some renters simply don’t realize their responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the rental property during their tenancy.  To combat this (and to protect your property) invest time into informing your tenants about your specific maintenance expectations while going over the lease agreement, and even seek to include these highlights within your tenant welcome paperwork.  Including written expectations within your lease agreement can set your new residents up for success during their tenancy, and can give you leverage if your tenants do still damage the property and refuse to pay for repairs.


Most lease agreements and landlord-tenant laws, operate with the expectation that renters are responsible for financing any repairs to fix tenant-caused damage, at the end of tenancy. While tenants are not responsible for normal wear and tear or household maintenance issues (excluding those caused due to tenant neglect or direct damage) it is important to be able to fully differentiate between what upkeep the property manager is responsible for, and what the residents themselves must be aware of.


Since property management can include some overlaps in responsibilities, it is important to ensure that your renters know that property upkeep is a joint responsibility between the landlord and tenant. Specifics should be outlined within the rental agreement to avoid confusion between both parties regarding who is in charge of certain tasks.


Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning:


  • Tenant: Residents are responsible for using the fixtures properly and informing the maintenance crew or property manager quickly if there are any issues with the system. Since damage can be greatly increased as time passes without repair, it is the tenant’s responsibility to relay the information in a timely manner. The lease agreement may also require tenants to maintain the optimum functionality of the systems by keeping pipes clear and replacing air filters regularly. Should one of these fixtures fail, the owner is required to fix them promptly. If the issue occurred due to negligence, like flushing a diaper, the tenant could be held responsible for the repair fees.

  • Landlord: The landlord should keep these systems in working order, and fixing any of these qualify as a owner responsibility.


Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors & Fire Alarms:


  • Tenant: Lease agreement may require tenants to regularly test and replace these system’s batteries as needed.

  • Landlord: Property owners are typically required to provide and maintain safety features and replace or repair them as needed. Some states specifically require that batteries are newly changed before beginning a new tenancy.


Management of Known Toxins:


  • Tenants: The lease agreement can require that tenants use proper ventilation systems (like turning on the fan when a resident is utilizing the shower) and supply information on ways to clean mold should any be found during tenancy.

  • Landlord: 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.


Pest Control:


  • Tenant: The tenant is required to keep the property sanitary and not allow the property to invite infestation through piled refuse or other means. Lease agreements may state that if the tenant does not keep a clean home and an infestation occurs, the landlord is able to deduct the cost of the extermination from the tenant’s security deposit.

  • Landlord: Owners are generally required to take responsibility for pest control should and infestation arise.




Landscaping is one area that should include specifics within the lease, this task can either fall to the landlord or the renter depending on the agreement specified within the lease.

  • Tenant: Should the landlord assign landscaping maintenance to the tenant within the lease, should the landscape not be maintained, any respective fines received from violating local laws or HOA rules become the tenant’s responsibility.

  • Landlord: Landscaping becomes the landlord’s responsibility if an unmaintained property if it violates local laws or HOA restrictions. It is also wise for the owner to take responsibility for keeping bushes trimmed and organic debris removed to prevent fire hazards to the property.

Common Areas:


  • Tenant: Residents must follow property rules regarding use of equipment and clean up within common areas like the in-house gym or pool.

  • Landlord: The landlord is required to keep all common areas of a multi-unit residential property safe and clean. They also have a responsibility to provide appropriate trash receptacles and arranging for regular pickup. Elevators and other common-use systems also fall under a landlord’s area of responsibility.

Ensuring your property stays well-maintained is crucial to your bottom line as an investor or manager. Carefully combing through all potential responsibilities within your residence, and clearly dictating expectations for tenants’ within the lease agreement, can help avoid disrepair do to miscommunication or neglect.

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