As a landlord, you need to ensure your rental properties are in tiptop condition for maximum return on investment.
A rental property needs regular maintenance – and under the landlord-tenant law, both you and your tenant have certain maintenance responsibilities.
In this post, we are going over how to maintain your rental property!
A Landlord’s Maintenance Responsibilities
As a landlord, you have a responsibility of maintaining your rental property to a certain standard.
In California, your responsibilities include the following:
1. Ensure tenants have somewhere to put their garbage.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility of supplying your tenants with proper trash receptacles. You must ensure that they have trash bins that are proper size.
You may also need to build an enclosure for the trash receptacles depending on your specific location.
2. Make sure your units have running water.
This is a basic responsibility that California landlords have. In addition to providing running water, you must also ensure the shower, toilet and sink are functioning properly.
3. Meet all the local building codes.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to provide your tenant with a safe, healthy environment.
This entails doing the following things prior to renting out your property:
- Installing a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector
- Ensuring the home is structurally sound
- Fixing mold issues (if any)
- Providing your tenant with a lead paint disclosure. This is a requirement for landlords renting out units built prior to 1978.
- Getting rid of pest infestations (if any).
4. Maintain the common areas.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility of maintaining common areas. Common areas include the exterior walkways, all corridors, courtyards, parking lots, stairwells, and elevators.
These areas must also be safe. If, for instance, the flooring has a tripping hazard, you must have it fixed.
You must also ensure that stairs have a stable banister.
5. Perform the necessary repairs.
You must ensure your rental properties are habitable, which includes making the requested or needed repairs within a reasonable period of time.
Generally speaking, you must perform a repair within a period of 30 days after being notified. If you don’t, one legal remedy your tenant can pursue is performing the repair by themselves and then subtracting the cost from future rent payments.
Another legal remedy they can do is simply terminate the lease and move out [CA Civil Code Sec. 1942].
6. Ensure the property is safe from criminal intrusion.
You must take the necessary measures to secure your rental property against possible criminal acts. If you fail to do so, you may carry a substantial liability for failure to provide reasonable protections to your tenant.
That said, you aren’t a guarantor to your tenant’s safety. If you take reasonable steps to provide them a safe property, you won’t carry any liability if your tenant gets harmed due to unforeseen circumstances or as a result of third parties.
A Tenant’s Maintenance Responsibilities
Tenants also have certain responsibilities in regards to maintenance.
In California, their responsibilities include the following:
1. Keep the property clean and sanitary.
Usually, landlords include clauses in their lease requiring tenants to maintain their units in a clean and sanitary condition.
To avoid vagueness or confusion, you may want your cleaning requirements to include the following:
- Where to clean
- When to clean
- How to clean
You may also want to add a clause allowing you to hire professional cleaning services should the tenant fail to keep the premises clean.
2. Abide by the building and housing codes.
Tenants, just like landlords, have a responsibility to abide by the relevant building and housing laws. If the unit is meant for two tenants, then the tenant must not sneak in additional persons to live in the unit.
Exceeding the occupancy limit is a safety risk and can increase normal wear and tear.
3. Prevent mold issues.
Tenants have a responsibility to keep their units free from excessive moisture, which can lead to mold growth. They can do this by practicing good housekeeping and ventilating the unit.
4. Care for their rented premises.
Tenants have a responsibility to treat their property with care.
Some of the things they can do to care for the rental include:
- Keeping plumbing fixtures clean and in a sanitary condition to prevent excessive dirt, mold growth, soap scum buildup, or rust. The tenant must also use these fixtures only for their intended purposes.
- Keeping all provided appliances in a reasonably clean state.
- Not cause damage to the unit. While normal wear and tear is to be expected, negligent or careless damage is a no-no. Examples of negligent property damage includes a hole on the door, a missing or cracked tile, a broken or missing toilet seat, or a smashed bathroom mirror.
- Report issues within a reasonable time. Tenants have a responsibility to notify landlords of maintenance issues.
- Perform repairs for damages they have caused. A tenant has an obligation to make repairs for any damages they cause to the unit. For example, if a tenant breaks their bathroom mirror, they must ensure they fix it before moving out. If they don’t, you can use part of their deposit to install another.
Both the landlord and tenant have certain responsibilities to maintain the rental property. As a landlord, ensuring your property is regularly maintained is key to running a successful investment business.