One point of frustration for many landlords is the fact that their tenants may not always leave their living spaces in the same condition they found them. With this in mind, it might be wiser for property owners to take a different, more proactive approach to maintenance in which they work hand-in-hand with their tenants.
There are, of course, different legal responsibilities – which often vary by state – about what aspects of home maintenance are a landlord's responsibility, and what fall on the tenants, according to Rentec Direct. These rules are something with which landlords need to familiarize themselves so they can avoid potential legal issues, but also to work out a strong and effective division of labor with tenants.
Start off right
When new tenants move in, it's incumbent on landlords to ensure those people know what will be expected of them in terms of maintenance, the report said. Who brings the trash to the curb? Who shovels the driveway and sidewalk when it snows? Who pays for whatever repairs need to be made, and in what circumstances? These are all issues that may have some legal requirements around them, but can also be spelled out in a formal lease agreement.
But when it comes to vital home issues such as plumbing and heating, that's something tenants will need to use responsibly and safely but which they should not attempt to repair themselves, the report said. However, when it comes to smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, tenants may be required to replace batteries, but typically not the units themselves.
What else to keep in mind
When repairs do need to be made, and require either a landlord or someone they hire to show up and work within a tenant's living space, there are typically state-by-state requirements for providing notice of that effort at least 24 hours in advance, if not more, according to Find Law Real Estate. Likewise, most states require landlords to make repairs – especially when they affect the safety or livability of the space – within 48 hours of their tenants reporting the issues.
With that in mind, landlords should also endeavor to make it clear to their tenants that a big part of maintaining a property is being vigilant for anything that seems as though it's not in working order, and reporting it as soon as possible so that both parties can benefit, according to The Balance Small Business. After all, when small problems go unaddressed, they can often become big problems for both landlords and tenants. For property owners, those problems can be legal entanglements, whereas for renters they can simply make their daily lives a little less convenient – or even unsafe.
When tenants and owners know their responsibilities about property maintenance, and are vigilant and proactive about dealing with any issue as it crops up, all involved will be in a much better position to uphold a strong relationship going forward.
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