Property Maintenance Responsibilities and Considerations: Should I Handle It Myself?

When you’re a landlord, rental properties typically require a lot of maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape. Because landlord maintenance responsibilities are specified by landlord-tenant law, knowing who is responsible for what and when in advance will eliminate the guesswork.

If you still have questions concerning your role in keeping up a rental property, this handy landlord maintenance checklist should contain all the answers you need.   

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What Are Landlords Responsible for?

In a rental agreement, there are certain rights that both tenants and renters maintain.

And although landlord-tenant law requirements vary slightly from state to state, these are typically property maintenance considerations that landlords are responsible for:

Provide habitable living

In general, landlords must provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants per local building and housing codes. For example, if it’s a residential property, there are requirements for how many tenants can live in each unit.

For both commercial and residential properties, landlord-tenant laws govern the building’s structural integrity, placement of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, electric work, plumbing work, pest infestations, mold issues, lead paint issues, asbestos issues, and more.

Vital services that landlords are required to provide may include systems for heat, gas, and electrical. They must also supply appliances in working order per the rental lease agreement. If a tenant is responsible for paying their utility bills, a failure to do so may result in services like gas, water, and electricity being turned off by the provider. 

Who is responsible for plumbing repairs in a rental apartment? By law, every tenant must also have access to clean running water within their rental unit, which may include access to a functioning sink, toilet, and shower. There must also be a working water heater so that the tenant has access to hot water.

And finally, it is also the landlord’s responsibility to ensure their tenants have a proper trash receptacle to dispose of their garbage. The size and number of trash bins must be suitable for the number of tenants on the property and how often the trash is collected each week.

Looking at the other side of the coin, tenant responsibilities when renting a house include:

  • Reporting any mold growth
  • Not causing property damage due to neglect or abuse
  • Maintaining a clean environment to prevent the attraction of pests
  • Ensuring that all emergency exits are accessible
  • Ensuring that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working
  • Taking care of all plumbing fixtures

Ensure a quiet living environment

A list of landlord responsibilities would also include the obligation to provide a premise that allows for quiet enjoyment. Your tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment, meaning that you as their landlord are required to ensure undisturbed use of the property.

Maintain tenant safety

Landlords are legally obligated to protect their tenants. State and local security laws may specify safety requirements for items such as deadbolt locks on doors, lighting, and window locks. Additionally, landlords are required to maintain their rental property and conduct regular inspections.

The landlord must keep common areas clean and safe with working and suitable lighting. Any stairs must have a stable banister, while any flooring or cracks that could be a trip hazard must be repaired.

Respond to repair requests and perform repairs

Who is responsible for repairs in a rental property? By law, landlords are required to keep the property in habitable condition, which includes responding to tenant repair requests in a timely and efficient manner. One of the best ways for tenants to help with property maintenance is by reporting anything that isn’t working properly to their landlord.

Using apartment repairs and maintenance as an illustration, if a landlord in Illinois fails to respond within 14 days of a repair request, the tenant has the legal right to “repair and deduct” from their specified rent amount. However, if the repair is needed because of tenant abuse or neglect, the landlord can charge the tenant extra to cover the cost of the repair.

Track unit condition and normal wear and tear

A landlord also has a legal obligation to document the rental unit’s condition before and after the tenant moves in. Conducting regular inspections at move-in and move-out allows landlords to assess the property’s condition and determine what repairs are needed.

The responsibility of maintaining normal wear and tear falls on the landlord, while tenants are legally protected from erroneous repair fees. With that said, no landlord should accept being taken advantage of themselves, and excessive damage to your property will always be the responsibility of your tenant.

Advantages of Using a Property Manager for Maintenance Responsibilities

Property managers can serve a vital role in the rental property maintenance process by serving as the eyes and ears of the property owner. Their responsibilities may include fielding maintenance requests from tenants or scheduling regular maintenance appointments.  

The overall objective of any reputable property manager should be preserving the property’s value and protecting the owner’s investment while providing a safe and comfortable home for the tenant.

While shouldering some of the landlord’s burden, a property manager can take on these maintenance responsibilities:

  • Track and respond to tenant maintenance requests using a technology-based system.
  • Have protocols in place for dealing with maintenance emergencies.
  • Conduct regular inspections at move-in and move-out to assess property conditions and help owners determine what repairs are needed. This is an essential component for maintaining a property’s value.
  • Develop an extensive network of reputable vendors who can handle a wide variety of repair needs. This will make it easier to find a vendor quickly, one who can seamlessly respond to tenant maintenance needs.
  • Schedule regular maintenance that ultimately protects the property investment, including those for plumbing, HVAC, and appliances to ensure they remain in working order.

Negotiating Rental Maintenance Responsibilities

As a landlord, you can also negotiate with your tenants to perform specific maintenance duties. Those additional tenant responsibilities can be included in the rental agreement, for example, when a tenant is renting a house.

Examples of rental maintenance responsibilities you may ask the tenant to perform include seasonal tasks like cutting grass, shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, raking leaves, or putting down salt for ice.

You and your tenant may agree that they are responsible for making minor or even major repairs if you are comfortable with their skills. You can also negotiate terms like keeping common areas clean, taking out the garbage, or even offer a reduced rent amount or rent credit in exchange for their maintenance services.  

If you aren’t comfortable negotiating rental maintenance responsibilities on your own, that’s another area where a good property manager can help!

Allow Our Professionals to Manage Your Property’s Maintenance  

Successful real estate investors know that relying on an experienced property management firm can help control costs and maximize profits. GNP Realty Partners has extensive experience managing all types of commercial and residential rental properties in Chicago. Our dedicated professionals can handle all day-to-day aspects of your business operations, including preventative maintenance, inspections, tenant repair requests, and more. Allow GNP Realty Partners to take your investment to the next level by contacting us today!