At some point, almost every adult has rented a home. Renting a property covers a basic necessity of life (shelter), but the process isn’t always straightforward. So, many people sign a rental agreement without fully understanding what it is they’re agreeing to.
Avoid being blindsided by the fine print. Get a better idea of what responsibilities generally fall on the renter and which ones the landlord should handle.
*NOTE: The legal responsibilities of renters and landlords vary depending on the local building and health codes, state laws and the points outlined in the contract. Please check with your local housing authority for information specific to your area.
The Renter’s Responsibilities
Maintaining the yard – In most cases it will be up to the renter to maintain the yard. It’s important to know whether the home is within an HOA because it could require certain exterior maintenance.
Getting coverage for possessions – The landlord’s property insurance may cover damage done to the home, but it won’t cover any of the renter’s personal items. Getting renters insurance is completely up to the renter, but in some cases it could be required by the landlord.
Paying for what you break – If damage occurs due to the renter’s actions/neglect or the actions/neglect of guests and pets, then the renter has to pay for the repair.
Letting the landlord know when there’s a problem – If you spot a problem you need to let the landlord know ASAP. Some damage can get much worse if it’s left unaddressed.
Keeping an operable pool clean – That glistening pool was a selling point when you were looking at rentals, but a special pool and spa addendum may specify that the renter has to foot the bill to maintain it.
Cleaning the property before you move out – Many tenants have had their deposits withheld or reduced because they failed to clean the property before turning in the keys.
Whatever else is specified in the rental agreement – Technically, just about any responsibility can become the renters if it’s in the rental agreement. Read every word of the contract and ask questions if something is unclear.
The Landlord’s Responsibilities
Paying the HOA dues – If the rental property is within an HOA it’s on the landlord to make the HOA payments.
Paying for repairs from normal wear and tear – When systems or the structure of the home need repair due to age or normal wear, the landlord is responsible for covering the cost. (However, if the repair isn’t necessary for making the home habitable then they don’t have to make the repair right away.)
Making sure the doors and windows are secure – Landlords are legally responsible for ensuring that the property is safe and secure. If a window lock or door isn’t working properly they have to get it fixed ASAP.
Promptly making repairs that impact safety – Any repair that’s needed to ensure the renter’s safety has to be taken care of ASAP. Typically, the repair must be completed within a certain amount of time from receiving the repair request. This includes components and structures needed for electricity and other utilities.
Maintaining systems for heating – The landlord must maintain home systems so that heating services can be delivered, but it’s up to the renter to pay for service. Likewise, the landlord can shut off utility connections if a renter is in the home.
Maintaining pool safety – Rental properties with pools involve special considerations – like who has to maintain it. Generally speaking, the landlord is going to be responsible for maintaining safety features like a gate around the pool. However, a landlord isn’t responsible for making sure the pool is usable.
Cleaning up an insect infestation – Most of the landlord’s responsibilities hinge on safety and whether the home is habitable. An insect infestation can cause adverse health conditions so a landlord usually has to correct the problem. However, if it’s discovered that the renter’s lifestyle habits or lack of cleaning caused the issue, then they may have to cover the cost for pest control treatments.
Providing renters with notice before dropping by – Renters have the right to a certain amount of privacy. For that reason, there are rules that require landlords to provide tenants with advance notice before entering the property.
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