Landlords cannot control how tenants live their lives, but they've the right to expect appropriate use of the possessions and care of the rental unit. Tenant’s must share some responsibility of maintenance problems. As a landlord or property manager, you should be clearly laying out what items a tenant is responsible for maintaining, so that when contractors must be sent out you have a clear way to bill tenant for misuse or neglect. Below are the 9 things that tenants should be responsible for in any well written lease:
1. Waste Disposal
You need to throw out the garbage if you would like a clean and odorless home the next time you are ready to rent. Landlords frequently pass the charge of waste disposal on through a rental clause in the lease. In areas without routine trash service, it is important to negotiate a disposal plan with the tenant and make sure that they stick with it.
2. Pest Control
It is up to the landlord to make sure that unit is pest-free before anyone goes in. If the landlord has fixed structural issues that enable insects and rodents to hideout, then tenants become responsible for maintaining good home hygiene to keep pests at bay. Tenants might be financially responsible for abatement of an infestation brought on by negligence, particularly if they violate provisions stipulated in the rental agreement.
Lawn and yard maintenance can fall into the renter’s responsibility if a rental clause specifies those jobs. If that's the instance, any breach of county or city ordinances are the renter's responsibility as well. The renter is always accountable for maintaining the lawn, eliminating obstacles, and cleaning up. In certain situations, especially in shared housing units, a landlord could contract a renter to perform lawn maintenance in exchange for payment, either via rent credit or cash if it would be cheaper than hiring a gardener.
4. Snow Removal
Snow removal is an issue of security, but not just for tenants. It can be an issue for anybody working with a public walkway which spans the house. Because renters have a duty to maintain the premises, they are faulted for failing to clean snow from doors and paths around the home. Make sure you clarify this in your lease to avoid any grey areas.
5. Mold Prevention
Mold develops where there is moisture, but it can be tricky knowing if the mold growth is due to tenant negligence or a potential wear issue. Generally, it is the landlord's job when the moisture comes out of a plumbing issue or structural issue in the home. Liability for cleaning may fall into the tenant’s hands if the mold is the consequence of bad hygiene practices, like leaving heaps of damp clothing in the corner. Tenants will also be responsible for providing sufficient ventilation and may be asked to wash surfaces on bathrooms and walls to prevent mold growth.
6. Appropriate Appliance Usage
Appliances, like stoves, microwaves, and garbage disposals, will not last long under misuse. Proper appliance care can be outlined in a lease and certain responsibilities may be placed on the tenant. In fact, even an appliance like a fridge does not necessarily have to be landlord responsibility if it is spelled out in the lease.
Even a completely dead appliance can be optional for a landlord to replace so long as this is outlined in the lease with the tenant.
7. Smoke, CO Sensor Maintenance
Smoke detectors are usually unnoticeable until they need new batteries when they sound off. When a smoke alarm requires fresh batteries, it is the landlord's task to replace them unless the lease says otherwise. So put this in your lease as a tenant responsibility and save yourself from having to make a trip out to your rental unit.
8. Septic Maintenance
Septic systems generally have much shorter lifespans in rental units. This is such a significant maintenance issue that many landlords incorporate a rental clause or provide a handout that explains best practices for tenants. They state that curing oils, greases, and non-degradable materials are trash rather than plumbing waste. Septic remedies and pump maintenance would be the landlord's duty, but in the event the system fails, tenant’s may be on the hook for improper use.
9. Placing Maintenance Requests
Tenants have a duty to get in touch with the landlord or property manager once the house needs repairs. Any harm that results from a failure to do this could cost part or all of their security deposit or much more. Unless approved by the lease, tenants can not make repairs independently unless the landlord doesn't respond. If that's the case, the majority of states make it possible for tenants to make repairs which affect habitability and bill these back to the landlord.
Know the rental requirements
When it comes to maintenance problems for renters, it is crucial that you read and understand the lease before leasing to a tenant. Make sure you use an initial move-in list and allow your tenants to examine the unit carefully prior to signing.
10. Bonus: Any Damage From Pets
Keep in mind, any damage from pets is a tenant responsibility. Funds to fix can either come form pet rent, a pet deposit, or the tenant’s security deposit.