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How to Determine Landlord vs Tenant Responsibilities

When it comes to rental properties, both landlords and tenants have a number of responsibilities they must uphold. However, with so many things to take care of, it’s essential to determine who’s responsible for what. Today, we’ll review how to determine landlord vs tenant responsibilities and what can be negotiated in a lease agreement. 


Contents of This Article: 

How to Determine Rental Property Responsibilities

As a tenant, you may think that your landlord or Philadelphia property management is responsible for everything regarding maintenance and repairs in a rental property. However, that’s usually not the case. As outlined in their lease agreement, landlords and tenants have certain responsibilities they must acknowledge and keep up with. 

Both parties need to understand their roles and comply with the terms of their lease agreements. Additionally, some areas can be negotiated depending on your lease terms or what type of rental property you live in. Read along as we go over landlord vs tenant responsibilities in rental properties. 

Landlord Responsibilities in Rental Properties

Even though landlords aren’t the ones living in rental properties, they still have several responsibilities when it comes to property maintenance and upkeep. After all, they own the properties and are responsible for keeping them safe, compliant, and habitable for all tenants. Here are some of their main responsibilities regarding rental properties. 


  1. Pest Control
  2. Safety and Compliance
  3. Providing Essential Services
  4. Handling Major Repairs and Maintenance
  5. Maintaining Common Areas

Pest Control

Landlords are generally responsible for addressing pest control issues in rental properties. So, if pests are found on the premises, tenants should contact their landlords immediately so they can help resolve the issue. From there, landlords may hire professional pest control services to inspect the property, implement pest prevention measures, and address infestations as needed. On the other hand, tenants must keep the unit clean and trash to a minimum to help avoid and limit the number of pests on the premises. 

Safety and Compliance

Rental properties must comply with safety standards and relevant building codes. This includes providing a safe environment for tenants by addressing issues like proper ventilation, secure entrances and exits, and adhering to fire safety regulations. Also, landlords must comply with local laws regarding the safety of the property. This generally includes things like ensuring that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in each unit.

Providing Essential Services

Landlords are responsible for providing essential services to tenants. These services may include common utilities like water, heating, and sanitation. Landlords must ensure that these services are maintained in good working order and meet the basic needs of the tenants throughout their tenancy. However, it’s usually the tenant’s responsibility to pay for the utilities they use, whether it’s combined with the monthly rental rate or separately billed in their name. 

Handling Major Repairs and Maintenance

When tenants request maintenance or report an emergency repair, landlords are responsible for taking care of it promptly.


Additionally, they’re responsible for handling major repairs or maintenance tasks that affect the property’s habitability.

This may include repairs to the property’s structural integrity, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and electrical systems. Landlords must respond promptly to repair requests and quickly address issues that can impact the health and safety of tenants. 

Maintaining Common Areas

In shared buildings like apartments or duplexes, landlords are responsible for maintaining and ensuring the cleanliness and safety of common areas. This may include common hallways, stairwells, parking lots, and shared amenities. If tenants notice something is wrong in a common area, they must report it promptly to their landlord so they can take care of it quickly.

Tenant Responsibilities in Rental Properties

As a tenant, you’re responsible for your own share of tasks regarding the upkeep of a rental property. While it all depends on your lease agreement, here are some of the main things tenants are responsible for in a rental property. 


  1. Rent Payments
  2. Excessive Property Damage
  3. Report Maintenance and Repair Issues
  4. Proper Waste Management
  5. Damage Caused by Pets or Guests

Rent Payments

One of a tenant’s major responsibilities in a rental property is paying rent on time and in full each month. So, tenants must adhere to the agreed-upon payment schedule. Otherwise, late payments can result in fees or other consequences outlined in the lease agreement. 

Excessive Property Damage

Tenants are generally expected to use the rental property responsibly and avoid causing excessive damage. While normal wear and tear is typically a landlord’s responsibility, any damage beyond normal wear and tear this may require a tenant to repair or replace the damage. That said, tenants must report any damage promptly and work with the landlord to address them fairly. 

Report Maintenance and Repair Issues

While landlords are responsible for taking care of maintenance and repairs, tenants must promptly report any issues they notice in their rental property. This includes problems with the plumbing, electrical systems, appliances, or any structural issues. Reporting these issues quickly helps prevent further damage and allows your landlord to address them promptly, which is a win-win for both parties. 


Proper Waste Management

Another tenant responsibility is proper waste management. This means taking the garbage out to be picked up at the designated spot and not letting it pile up. Garbage that piles up can attract bugs and pests, which can cause damage and may then become the tenant’s responsibility. 

Damage Caused by Pets or Guests

If the lease allows pets, tenants are responsible for any damage caused by their pets. This includes repairing or replacing items that pets may damage. Additionally, tenants are typically held accountable for the actions of their guests. So, any damage caused by guests may be the tenant’s responsibility. 

What Can Be Negotiated in a Lease Agreement?

While landlords and tenants generally have their own responsibilities regarding rental properties, some areas can be negotiated. Here are some potential gray areas that are important to clear up if they’re not specified in a lease agreement. 

  • Utilities
  • Landscaping
  • Snow Removal


Landlords and tenants can negotiate whether certain utilities are included in the rent or paid separately by the tenant. For instance, the lease may specify that the landlord covers water and trash services while the tenant is responsible for electricity, gas, and internet services. 



The lease agreement generally outlines who’s responsible for landscaping duties, whether it’s the landlord or tenant. Most times, lawn care is left to the tenants, especially at single-family properties. However, in some cases, the landlord or property manager will handle mowing the lawn and maintaining landscaping. 

Snow Removal

Another area that’s not always clear is snow removal, which is important to consider if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow. If you live in a single-family rental, you’ll most likely be responsible for snow removal. However, landlords may take care of snow removal in apartment complexes or large buildings. 

Create Fair Lease Agreements With BMG

When it comes to landlord vs tenant responsibilities, it’s important to create a comprehensive lease agreement so there are no gray areas. However, making a thorough, legally binding lease agreement can be tricky, especially if you don’t pay attention to all the landlord-tenant laws that apply to rental properties. That’s why many rental property investors enlist the help of a property management team. A good property management team will ensure your lease agreements comply with all federal, state, and local laws and include all the important points they need.

Need More Advice? contact us today!

If you’re looking for help managing your tenants and properties, look no further than Bay Property Management Group. Our team of experienced property management professionals can help you find the best tenants for your properties and keep them well-maintained throughout each lease term. So, if you’re looking for comprehensive management services throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, or Washington, DC, contact BMG today!