Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities

credit: Del Far

Now that you own a rental property, it's time to plan for repairs and develop a maintenance schedule. The first step is to determine what you're responsible for as a landlord.

You are responsible for basic living requirements, a walk through should tell you if the property is clean, sanitary and structurally sound. A further inspection will let you know if the heat, water and electricity are in working order and functioning safely. Local laws will regulate other aspects so check to see how many smoke detectors are required for each unit, if you need to adjust common area lighting, the security requirements for your building, etc.

Once you have tenants, the repair rules change a little bit. You have to give your tenant advance notice before you enter their premises, usually notice of at least 24 hours is sufficient. If there is an emergency situation, a fire or a broken water pipe, then you can enter the residence without notice, but you should document your entry and let the tenant know as soon as possible. If you refuse or fail to make some of these repairs in a reasonable time, your tenants can legally take their own action. They can begin withholding rent, they can get the problem fixed and withhold rent to cover the expense, they can call local authorities and building inspectors who will force you to make repairs, or they can break the lease and leave.

Take responsibility for your property and keep it in good condition so your tenants are happy, in the long run this will be to your benefit.

Kristin Kizer
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