The Question of Responsibility - Is It The Tenants or the Landlords?
I get a lot of emails about issues for landlords and tenants, and one that I received today caught my attention. The article was published by Zillow: "Rental Property Maintenance: Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities." The part that I found interesting is that the article suggests negotiating maintenance responsibilities in the lease.
I did a few posts before that dealt with similar issues. For landlords, I wrote, "Where can I find my rights as a landlord? and, "What are the landlords obligations when you lease a property?" For renters, I wrote, "What maintenance items are my responsibility as a renter?," and, "Where can I find my rights as a renter?," and, "What are the tenants obligations when you lease a property?"
They point out that the landlords responsibilities include providing habitable living, ensuring a quiet living environment, maintaining tenant safety, responding to repair requests and performing needed repairs, and tracking the unit condition for normal wear and tear. The tenants are responsible for maintaining the rental property, preventing excessive damage, and reporting issues as they come up. They point out that while some repair items can be negotiated (as to who will do them), certain ones should be done by licensed professionals, like electrical work, major plumbing issues, and roof repairs.
Now let's look at what they say can be negotiated in the lease. Depending on where you are located, seasonal maintenance issues like grass cutting, leave raking, trimming, snow shoveling, salting for ice, pipe insulation, cleaning gutters, and replacing air filters may be considered as being the landlords responsibility but could possibly be listed as tenant responsibilities within the lease.
Clearly, it's important to read and understand what's listed in your lease prior to signing. As a renter, by agreeing to take on responsibilities, you may be able to negotiate a lower rent amount. Some landlords will want to keep certain things under their control, but they may be open to tenants performing minor repairs and maintenance items that they feel they can handle. Talk it over with your landlord before signing your lease and come to an agreement. Already leasing and not sure of what you should be doing? Pull out the lease you signed and read it carefully to find out!
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