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No one ever wants to get a late-night call that a tenant’s water heater is flooding the unit below, but it happens. How should you handle it? As the landlord, what are you expected to do?

If you own property that houses tenants, you are inevitably going to have to deal with maintenance service issues. It’s essential to understand your responsibilities and what you are legally required to handle. Typically, this has to do with making the unit habitable. These regulations vary by state or county, so be sure to brush up on the local requirements for your property’s area. As the landlord, you can expect to be responsible for weatherproofing, necessary heating and cooling, water, electricity, and sanitation, among other things.

You will be expected to ensure your tenants’ safety by meeting the basic standards for livability and ensuring that there are no known dangers. This may include regularly replacing or repairing equipment, ensuring the unit meets local building code, potentially removing material that the law has determined unsafe (such as asbestos), and similar. Maintaining functional smoke detectors and doors locks is also often a requirement. If a tenant is dealing with broken equipment or safety hazards, you must respond quickly. This often requires having a 24/7 maintenance service available.

Beyond the basics required by your local regulations, your maintenance responsibilities, along with the responsibilities of the tenant, should be outlined in the rental agreement. You should be well-acquainted with your property and the location of shut-off switches, circuit breakers, and other maintenance panels. It’s also advisable to procure a list of trusted contractors you can work with for general maintenance, as well as an emergency maintenance service. You may also choose to be responsible for smaller maintenance work, such as touching up paint, replacing light bulbs, or carpet cleaning.

Tenant responsibilities, on the other hand, typically include keeping the apartment and personal outside areas clean and tidy. If a renter causes damage due to negligence, or causes pest infestation due to unsanitary conditions, it is their responsibility to take care of it. Many times, these costs come out of the security and cleaning deposits. For minor repairs, the tenant usually has the option of performing the repairs themselves in exchange for reduced rent, or requesting the property manager to take care of it.

Community areas also fall under the landlord’s responsibilities, so take that into account, as well.

If you’re not sure how to handle around-the-clock maintenance requests, give us a call. We can provide you with trusted vendors or offer property management services in order to take the pressure off of you. Our professional property managers are well-acquainted with all local laws and regulations, and are happy to manage maintenance responsibilities on your behalf.