As a landlord, overseeing property maintenance is a critical aspect of your role, but the burden doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. From routine chores like lawn maintenance to the simple act of switching out batteries, tenants also share the responsibility of ensuring your property’s functionality. In this article, we outline the repair tasks your tenants are expected to handle and explore your options when it comes to addressing the costs.
What Are Landlords Responsible For?
Whether you self-manage or collaborate with a luxury property management company, you carry the legal obligation to maintain your rental property. This includes completing repairs in a timely manner. Some of the duties you’re required to do include:
- Repairing structural issues that could pose safety risks to occupants
- Ensuring the home meets local building codes at all times
- Eliminating mold (unless the growth is due to the tenant’s negligence)
- Eliminating pests pre-occupancy and performing preventive maintenance to keep pests away
- Repairing your home’s heating systems
As you can see, your overarching role is to provide your tenant with a habitable home—one that’s safe, comfortable, and fulfills their essential needs.
Rental Repairs Landlords Aren’t Responsible For
While your role may inherently include the responsibility for property repairs, that doesn’t mean you’re liable for all forms of damage. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of tasks that tenants are typically responsible for:
Damage Done by Tenants
As a general rule, any property damage due to tenant actions—whether intentional or unintentional—is their responsibility. For example, suppose your tenant flushed food down the sink, causing it to get clogged, even if you’ve specifically reminded them not to do this. In this case, you wouldn’t be responsible for eliminating the build-up of food as it was a result of your tenant’s negligence.
When tenants cause property damage, they typically have two options: oversee the repairs themselves (they’ll have to hire their vendors, schedule repairs, and cover the cost), or have you oversee the repair work and deduct the cost from their security deposit.
Damage Done by Tenants’ Guests
In the same way, tenants are also accountable for all forms of damage done by their guests. To illustrate, suppose your tenant invites people over and one of their guests spills wine all over the carpet. Since the accident could’ve been prevented, the onus to clean it up falls entirely on your tenant, who takes full responsibility for their guest’s actions. Whether or not they ask their guest to pay for carpet cleaning is up to them.
Damage Resulting From the Misuse of Property
Rental contracts serve a critical purpose—to clearly outline which actions aren’t allowed on the property. In cases where tenants violate the contract’s terms, resulting in damage to your property, they will bear full responsibility for repairs.
One example of this is when a tenant smokes in your property. Smoking is often a no-can-do for many landlords and property management companies due to the risk of stubborn stains and smells. If your lease clearly specifies this restriction and a tenant goes against it anyway, they would be accountable for covering the cleaning costs. Moreover, such a violation could be considered grounds for eviction.
As the landlord, you are responsible for making sure your property is pest-free before your tenants move into the home. However, if a tenant’s actions lead to infestations after they move in, they may be held accountable for extermination costs.
A common example is when tenants transport bed bugs with their furniture. In the same way, if their irregular trash disposal results in unwanted “guests” like rats, rodents, or ants infiltrating the property, they’ll have to get things under control.
Pinpointing liability in cases of pest infestations can be challenging, with tenants often claiming they aren’t at fault. This underscores the importance of conducting a property inspection at the start of the tenancy, ideally with the help of a luxury property manager. Such inspections allow you to document the home’s condition, confirming the property’s initial pest-free condition.
General Lawn and Landscaping Care
Unless your contract specifically states that landscaping is under your purview, this task will typically fall under your tenant’s list of duties. This duty, however, is limited only to minor upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, watering the grass, and weeding landscaped areas.
Recognizing that not all tenants have green thumbs or spare time, it’s crucial to consider your plant choices. Opt for low-maintenance plants such as succulents to ease the burden on your tenants, while increasing your home’s marketability.
Your tenant can’t expect you or your luxury property manager to rush to their place for minor replacements, such as switching out the smoke alarm’s batteries. While you are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms, the duty to replace their batteries falls on the tenant. Similarly, the straightforward task of replacing light bulbs can be entrusted to the tenant.
However, do note that it remains your duty to ensure the functionality of your property’s components. For example, if smoke alarms fail to work even with fresh batteries, this is a matter for you to fix.
Modifications Done to the Property Without Permission
Generally, tenants aren’t allowed to make any modifications to a rental home without prior permission from the property owner. If they violate this agreement, they will have to cover the costs incurred to restore the home to its original condition. For example, a tenant who paints the walls without the owner’s permission will have to restore the original color upon moving out. This policy ensures the preservation of the property, while underscoring the importance of respecting the terms outlined in the rental contract.
How to Charge Tenants for Repairs
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you have the option to either entrust your tenants with repairs or handle it yourself, dipping into their security deposit. If you choose the former, it’s vital to thoroughly assess your tenant’s selected vendor or offer a list of trusted contractors to ensure your property receives optimal care.
Should you opt for the latter, make sure to provide them with a detailed outline of the damages and incurred costs. To mitigate the risk of disputes and promote transparency, document the entire process—retain receipts, work orders, invoices, and any other pertinent details.
Uphold Your Commitments With the Help of a Luxury Property Manager
When you facilitate the rental process with Luxury Property Care, we’ll dedicate the time to brief your tenants on their responsibilities. This ensures that expectations are crystal clear, reducing the risk of disputes. Additionally, our seasoned team will stay on top of upkeep, carrying out routine repairs and implementing preventive maintenance measures. In this way, we can make sure you fulfill all of your contractual commitments while enhancing the tenant experience as a whole.
For more information on our property management services in South Florida, dial (561) 944 – 2992 today. You may also complete our contact form to schedule a one-on-one consultation with our luxury property managers.