Updated September 12, 2017
Why it’s important to understand your landlord responsibilities
Every relationship is a two-way street with different responsibilities for the parties involved. While you expect tenants to treat your property with respect and pay monthly rent, they also have expectations of you as the landlord. Understanding landlord responsibilities and legal duties can help make sure you avoid legal issues that may arise in the future, with your property or your tenants.
Landlord responsibilities & legal duties
Landlords have different responsibilities, and they vary by state, we’ve broken things down so you as a landlord have a better idea of what you’re responsible for when you are renting out your property:
- By law, a rental residence must be habitable or fit to live in – this is the most important responsibility of any landlord, the house must be in livable condition.
- Tenants should feel safe in their property – working locks are a must have, just like announced visits, do not drop in announced.
- Residents should feel safe outside of the property – ensure all doorways are well lit and free of hazards also, be compliant with garbage regulations.
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls
- Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water.
- Pest control – this is part of the whole make the property habitable or fit to live in.
Tenant responsibilities & obligations
Tenants should feel right at home when they decide to rent out a property. However, there’re some responsibilities associated with the maintenance of the property you’re renting:
- Keep the premises clean and sanitary
- Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner
- Do not destroy, damage or deface the premises or allow anyone else to do so
- Notify the landlord when door locks or windows are not working
- Use and operate gas, electrical and plumbing fixtures properly
- Do not sublet -have extended guests if your contract doesn’t allow you to do it.
Tips for a healthy landlord-tenant relationship
As a landlord, you come to expect a general behavior and respect from your tenant. While screening tenants can help avoid the bad apples in the bunch, you never know what may come up, so it’s good to have these responsibilities written down and even reviewed with your tenant before they start using the rental property. Setting expectations at the forefront can be an excellent way to ensure your landlord/tenant relationship is a good one.
Not only will doing so help the relationship, but it will contribute to protecting landlords from issues that may arise, and ensure the tenants are enjoying their time in a given rental unit
The perfect tenant will go through these with you:
Tenant screening – provide a list of questions for your tenant to answer, so you understand who they are and what they’re looking for out of your property. This helps set expectations at the forefront.
-Can you pay rent timely?
-Are you working, who’s your employer?
-How many people are going to live in the property?
-Do you have any pets?
Welcome walk-through – when the tenant moves in, it can be nice to be there to say hello and welcome them into your property. At this point, they know the space, but seeing your face can help them understand you’re more than just a rent check.
Property information explained – it’s important to make sure your tenant understands garbage day, utility info, mailbox number, instructions for alarms, entry systems, sprinkler systems, etc. Make sure to have this conversation with the tenant before/after moving in.
Regular check-ins – so the tenant doesn’t forget you are around, if available it’s always nice to check in at the property or keep in contact with how things are going/if any issues need to be addressed.
We recommend taking a peek at our landlord center and get a lease agreement with conditions. Finding a great tenant is a two-way street: you’ll have to be a great landlord, and Rocket Lawyer can help you with that.