Rental property maintenance is an ongoing task. Rental properties present unique challenges based on the size of the home or the number of units. Therefore, many landlords and tenants wonder who is responsible for what? The difference between landlord, tenant, and property manager responsibilities needs to be clearly defined from the start. Doing so will keep your property operating in tip-top shape. Read on as we help you identify your role when it comes to maintenance.
What Are a Landlord’s Rental Property Maintenance Responsibilities?
Landlord-tenant law specifies some criteria regarding property maintenance and condition. While these requirements differ slightly from state to state, all landlords must provide a safe, sanitary, and habitable dwelling. If you don’t take care of essential repairs in Pennsylvania, tenants have the option to withhold rent or “repair and deduct.” So, based on these standards, landlords are responsible for the following:
- Maintenance Repairs: Landlords are required to make reasonable repairs to keep the property inhabitable and safe condition. However, if a repair is the result of tenant neglect or damage, the landlord can charge the tenant for the cost of the repair.
- Ensure Vital Services: Landlords must ensure essential services are in working order for the tenants. This includes systems such as plumbing, heat, electrical, and gas. Additionally, landlords must keep any appliances supplied per the rental lease in working condition.
- Running Water: Tenants must have access to running water and, in turn, working plumbing fixtures. These fixtures include a toilet, shower, and sink. Additionally, the water heater needs to be functioning correctly.
- Adhere to Building Codes: Landlords are required to provide adequate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. A licensed technician should perform any electrical, plumbing, or structural work.
- Pressing Issues: Landlords must protect the property and tenants against serious concerns. For example, the structural integrity of the home, evidence of mold growth, and lead paint. When these issues arise, landlords must take steps immediately to correct the problem.
- Exterior Safety: Landlords must maintain the safety of outdoor areas on the property. Issues such as broken railings or cracked steps can be a safety hazard and must be corrected.
When is a Tenant Responsible for Rental Property Maintenance?
Tenants can be responsible for maintenance under a few circumstances. In deciding what landlord, tenant, and property manager responsibilities are, continue reading to find out more.
- Tenant Neglect: If a tenant causes damage due to their neglect or abuse of the property, landlords may hold them financially responsible.
- Pest Control: Tenants must maintain a clean environment to discourage the attraction of pests. Regular cleaning and disposing of trash in proper receptacles are essential. If a pest issue arises, tenants will be financially responsible for treating the infestation.
- Safety Egress: Tenants are responsible for ensuring all emergency exits and significant systems can be easily accessed. At no time should these areas be used as storage or be blocked in any way. They must also not tamper or disconnect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Mold Growth: Mold can cause damage quickly as well as present a health hazard to at-risk individuals. While a tenant does not make these repairs, they have a responsibility to notify the landlord immediately when issues arise. If a water leak is noticed, tenants should actively mop up the water and make maintenance aware so that the problem is quickly addressed.
- Respecting Fixtures: Plumbing fixtures are essential and must be cared for. Tenants should only use these fixtures for their intended purpose and keep them clean to avoid potential issues. Common examples of misuse include pouring the grease into sink drains, allowing food build-up on stoves, or flushing trash down the toilet.
Property Managers and Maintenance Responsibility
Property managers are the eyes and ears of the property owner. Their job is to field maintenance requests from tenants as issues arise as well as schedule regular maintenance. The goal is to preserve the value of the property and protect the owner’s investment while providing a safe and comfortable home for the tenant. Let’s take a look at the property manager’s role as it pertains to the maintenance below.
- Track Tenant Maintenance Requests: An ideal property manager will have a software system to track requests made for your property. Having a technology-based system also ensures requests from tenants don’t fall through the cracks and are addressed promptly. Once a request comes in, the property manager will dispatch the appropriate repairman and follow up upon completion.
- Emergency Maintenance: Property managers should have a system and protocol in place to deal with emergency issues. This may include an onsite maintenance person or a trusted vendor capable of 24/7 emergency assistance.
- Provide a Network of Vendors: Property managers often have a bank of trusted vendors for a wide variety of repair needs. This allows them to easily find a vendor quickly and efficiently for tenant maintenance needs.
- Scheduled Regular Maintenance: As a property manager looks after a unit, regular maintenance becomes an essential part of protecting the investment. Property managers work with tenants to perform routine maintenance to care for systems such as plumbing, HVAC, and appliances to ensure working order.
- Routine Inspections: Property managers conduct regular inspections at move in and move out to access property conditions and help owners determine what repairs are needed. This is an essential tool for maintaining the value of the property.
Beware of Illegal Maintenance Requirements
Ultimately, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make repairs. Knowing your state’s landlord-tenant law is essential when writing a lawfully enforceable lease. Keep in mind; landlords cannot put a clause in the contract that forces tenants to be responsible for all maintenance and repairs. However, a landlord and tenant can decide on a split in responsibility mutually. If you agree that the tenant will perform specific maintenance, outline this in a lease addendum as a record.
Rental properties require regular maintenance and a reliable procedure for dealing with those maintenance needs—understanding who is responsible for what role in the process is essential to success. By clearly defining the difference between landlord, tenant, and property manager responsibilities from the start, you can protect your valuable investment. Are you looking for property management services? Bay Property Management Group offers top-notch rental property maintenance that includes both our in-house technicians as well as licensed contractors.