Owning an investment portfolio of properties has long been a popular method of increasing your wealth over time. But when it comes to the maintenance of your properties, some of your responsibilities as a landlord are actually shared with your tenants. So how do you know who is responsible for each problem that arises? To help you work it out, here are some of the most common issues that happen with rental tenancies.
Before the tenancy
Landlords are required to meet a wide range of obligations before tenants can move in at the beginning of a tenancy. This includes ensuring that all areas within the rental property are reasonably clean and in a liveable condition while complying with all applicable state and federal regulations for health and safety. That means everything on-site needs to function correctly with no danger of causing injury to the tenant if they use everything normally.
During the tenancy
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to organize any repairs or general maintenance required at the rental property, providing there is no damage caused by the tenants. The premises must always be maintained in a safe and working condition throughout the duration of the tenancy without causing any danger to the tenants.
Emergencies requiring urgent repairs are usually specified as any situation that poses a threat, makes the property unsafe, or is otherwise likely to cause the tenant any undue inconvenience. When emergency repairs are needed, the tenant must notify the managing agent or landlord immediately who must then arrange to have them repaired within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Situations requiring urgent repair can include any damaging, serious, or dangerous faults such as gas leaks, storm damage, roof leaks, impact damage, electrical faults, flood damage, blocked toilet, water leak, or fire damage, as well as loss of supply for gas, water, electricity, or hot water.
If for whatever reason neither the landlord nor agent is contactable, tenants are then automatically authorized to contact a nominated repairer to get the problem fixed. There should always be nominated repairers listed in the tenancy agreement so that your tenant can contact approved electricians, plumbers, locksmiths, glaziers, or general repair people in the event of an emergency.
Landlords are generally responsible for organizing and paying for most repairs that are required for rental properties, but they’re not always going to be considered urgent. As these routine repairs are most commonly caused by general wear and tear, tenants should always provide a request for the work in writing to the landlord. If the requested repairs are then agreed upon by the landlord, they will then need to ensure all repairs are completed within a reasonable timeframe.
While landlords are generally required to cover all of the repair costs that were caused by general wear and tear, tenants will have to pay for any repairs for damages that they have caused themselves. For example, tenants are responsible if they stain the carpet with red wine, accidentally break a window, or if there are any damages caused by their pets.
Drains & gutters
It’s usually the landlord’s responsibility to deal with plumbing issues and maintenance such as clogged drains or blocked guttering as they make up part of the structure of the rental property. That being said, the tenant may still be liable for plumbing repair costs if the blockage was caused by something they have done, such as clog up the shower drain with hair or flush foreign objects down the toilet. Otherwise, the responsibility will ultimately be decided by the condition of plumbing fixtures and fittings.
Because there is a responsibility on both tenants and landlords to ensure the rental property is maintained in a reasonable state of cleanliness, who pays for pest control is often a contentious issue. But in most cases, who pays for pest control will ultimately depend on when and how the infestation occurred. Landlords are primarily responsible for ensuring the property is clear of all pest and vermin infestations, unless it can be proved that the pest infestation was caused directly by a tenant with poor cleanliness or housekeeping.
Remember that correspondence with your tenants should always only ever be in writing. This is because it will make it much easier to keep track of everything legally, from rent payments to lease renewals and any ongoing maintenance issues. It’s also important to keep up to date with the latest tenancy rules and regulations in your state.