Maintenance of a property is oftentimes a grey area because both parties are expected to play a role. Owners or landlords are obligated to provide a residence that is habitable in terms of cleanliness, safety, and sanitation.
This falls under the “warranty of habitability“.
Tenants in turn are expected to maintain the condition of the property and its facilities. This means that they are liable to preserve the fixtures and they have to handle any damages they have caused. However, when looking at the nitty-gritty of what falls under which can get tricky. This is because maintenance encompasses both the upkeep and preservation of utilities.
Naturally, properties are expected to be very clean when first turned over to the renter. This includes vacuumed carpets, clean windows, bathrooms, and so on. Throughout the lease, tenants are expected to keep the place reasonably clean.
Cleaning of outdoor areas such as the garage and windows may depend on the area’s jurisdictions and the agreement. Some contracts may also state that renters should have the place professionally cleaned upon departure. When it comes to clearing gutters, landlords are generally tasked to do this.
Property owners are expected to turn over rooms and/or houses pest-free. This includes vermin, fleas, and termites. However, it is primarily the duty of the renter to keep it free from rodents, termites, or any pests that may cause damage. Depending on the stated terms, both parties may be obligated to handle pests.
Unless stated in the contract, the renter is responsible for mowing the lawn, trimming, weeding, watering, pruning, and fertilizing. However, major pruning, tree cutting, and installation of sprinklers fall under the other party’s duties. Inhabitants must also seek approval first before cutting down trees and do any major landscaping,
Accidents or injuries
Lessors are obligated to provide a safe living environment and if accidents or injuries occur as a result of faulty construction or installation, renters may seek a liability claim in physical and psychological damages, especially if it has caused a loss of income and even distress.
When filing a claim, do note that there may be time limits depending on the area. Generally, an individual can file up to three years after the accident happened, and even longer for people with disabilities, unless assisted with the help of a support coordinator. Hence, lessors should secure insurance for the property to have a certain level of protection. If the mishap happened due to negligence of the renter, however, claiming may not be possible.
Both parties play a role in this one. The landlord should ensure that the residence is amply fitted with proper plumbing. The tenant has to make sure that drains do not become clogged. Proper waste disposal is key to prevent this problem.
Food debris, oils, fats, hair, sanitary products, and soil can seriously clog the system. For plumbing issues, a professional plumbing service should be contacted. Ideally, they should also have a 24/7 in case of emergencies
Leased properties are required to be fitted with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. The level of compliance may vary from state to state. Lessors also need to inspect equipment from time to time to ensure everything works.
Inhabitants are not allowed to tamper with the equipment. If false fire alarms were to happen, this also falls under the tenant.
Depending on the agreement, both parties may be liable for this one. Do note that if the property is shared, renters may opt to have several names in the contract for shared responsibility. It is also the responsibility of the renter to inform the energy provider when you’re moving out to avoid extra charges.
Generally, “fair wear and tear” (things that are expected to weather over time) is not enough ground to charge damages. For example, fading of paint jobs and carpeting is not considered damage.
Do note that owners can deduct from the bond payment should they deem that the property has been damaged. This may include intentional and unintentional damage due to negligence, unpaid bills, looting, and abandonment of renter.
Keep the property in the same condition
Both lessor and occupant have a role to play in maintenance. Generally speaking, it is the job of the former to provide a ‘warrant of habitability’ which adheres to hygienic and safety standards.
Depending on the area and the terms of the contract, this may include the installation of plumbing, fire equipment, pest control, and paying of damages that resulted in accidents.
Providing satisfactory upkeep is also the duty of the owner when first turning over the property. Consequently, occupants are expected to keep the house or room in the same condition as when it was first turned over to them.