Rental Property Maintenance: Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

All properties require regular maintenance to keep their condition, and rental properties usually involve more maintenance than the average property. This also depends on its size and number of residents. Under the landlord tenant law, there are responsibilities for both landlords and tenants to ensure the property stays in its best condition possible.

Maintaining your property to the best of your ability can help ensure happy, long term tenants.

Your Property Maintenance Responsibilities as a Landlord

There is a certain standard of condition that the rental property must be kept in, according to the landlord tenant law. The general requirements are:

1. Provide Garbage Disposal

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure your tenants have somewhere to put their garbage. The amount of garbage disposal space is determined by the number of tenants on the property, and the frequency in which garbage is collected.

Depending where in Texas your rental property is located, you may be required to built an enclosure around the garbage disposal. Make sure to check if this is a requirement in your area.

2. Provide Running Water

All tenants require the ability to access running water within their unit. The tenant must have access to a working toilet, sink, and shower.

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This also includes a functioning water heater for the tenant to access hot water.

3. Abide to Building Codes

Landlords are required to ensure the environment provided to their tenants is safe and healthy. This involves clarification on how many people can live on the property, the installation of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, functioning plumbing and electrical, and the structural integrity of the property.

It's important that landlords are aware of mold, lead paint or asbestos issues. Pest infestations are also a concern, and require immediate attention.

3. Maintain the Common Areas

Landlords are responsible for keeping the common areas clean and functional. There are certain measures a landlord can take to ensure these areas are safe. This includes suitable lighting, ensuring that any stairs have a stable banister, and any possible tripping hazard is addressed and repaired.

4. Complete Necessary Repairs

As a landlord, you are required to complete the necessary repairs to keep the rental property in a condition that is habitable to your tenants. This could include ensuring the smoke detectors are in working condition, or replacing an old hot water tank. If the repair is caused by the tenants neglect or abuse, you can bill your tenant for the costs of the repair.

5. Ensure All Necessary Services are in Working Order

A tenants necessary services include functioning plumbing, electrical, heating, gas, and included appliances.

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If one of the utilities included in the rental property is in-suite laundry, it is the landlords responsibility to ensure the washer and dryer are in working order.

The Legal Requirements for the Property Maintenance Responsibilities of the Tenant

Just like landlords, tenants also have the legal obligation to keep the property at or above a certain standard. The general requirements for tenant responsibilities include:

1. Keep The Unit Free of Sanitary Hazards

Tenants are required take out their garbage to avoid allowing it to collect in the unit. The apartment is required to be kept reasonably clean and sanitary to avoid concerns such as pest infestations .

2. Keep the Unit Free of Safety Hazards

It is the tenants responsibility to make sure all emergency exits are easily accessible, with nothing blocking them. Tenants are not permitted to remove batteries or tamper with the smoke or carbon monoxide detectors in any way.

3. Abide by Building and Housing Codes

Just like landlords, tenants are required to follow the relevant building and housing laws. The tenant is required to follow the signed lease agreement. For example, if the tenant has signed a lease that states no pets are allowed, they cannot sneak in a pet.

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This could be a safety issue for the property, especially for other residents that may have allergies.

4. Prevent Mold

It is important that tenants ensure there is no accumulated moisture in their unit. Prolonged moisture can result in mold growth , which is a health hazard for the individuals exposed to it.

To prevent excess moisture and potential mold growth, make sure to open a window, use fans, and ensure good air circulation. If the tenant notices that there are areas with moisture or there is mold starting to appear, they are to report it to their landlord.

5. Be Aware of Lead Paint Hazards

For properties built prior to 1978, landlords can require that tenants notify them and request permission prior to doing anything that could potentially disturb lead paint. Repainting walls, or drilling a hole to hang a picture can disturb lead paint, which can be a health hazard.

6. Treat the Property With Respect

Tenants have a responsibility to care for the property and maintain a reasonable level of cleanliness. Tenants are not to be abusive or neglectful of the unit or its amenities. A tenants responsibilities can include:

  • Cleaning Plumbing Fixtures - Any plumbing fixture, such as sink faucets or drains must be kept reasonably clean. Failure to do so can result in rust, soap scum buildup or excessive dirt. These fixtures are only to be used for their intended purpose. Flushing garbage down the toilet would be an example of plumbing fixtures not being used for their intended purpose

sink

  • Cleaning Appliances - Tenants are responsible for maintaining the condition of the appliances supplied by their landlord. This can include kitchen appliances such as a microwave, stove, or fridge. Tenants are to clean the appliances regularly, and not allow the appliances to be damaged by their neglect.

  • Caring for the Property - The tenant is expected to ensure they do not damage the property. Normal wear and tear is expected, such as a a few scratches on a wall. However, a hole in a wall or a cracked mirror is considered damage to the property.

Bottom Line

As a landlord, you are responsible to ensure repairs are completed on your rental property to keep the unit in a habitable condition for your tenants.

If this is more responsibility than you are willing to take on as a landlord, you may consider hiring a property management company to help.

Rollingwood Management Inc. is a property management company that has been serving investors in Austin, Texas since 1986. We can help with pricing your rental , screening tenants, collecting rent and property maintenance. Contact us today to see how we can help make your investment property as stress free as possible.

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