In homeownership or real estate investing it is important that you build a successful portfolio. It is also important that you maintain and improve the quality of your investments. In “Increasing the Value Of Your Rental”, we cover the many ways to increase the value of your investments by making alterations and improving the overall appeal of your home or rental. This article focuses on the maintenance of your home and lays out the responsibilities of the landlord or tenant when it comes to timely repairs and the notice that is needed upon entry into the home.
There are a few basic responsibilities of the tenant that can and should be stated in the lease and possibly upon move-in.
- Tenants are responsible for the continued Care of the home, causing no damage that can be avoided beside normal wear and tear
- Proper use of appliances and fixtures that the homeowner provides, making no additions to the property unless authorized by the owner
- Extermination of rodents/ infestations brought in by the tenants’ behalf, examples could be fleas from pets or bed bugs from a previous residences
- No illegal activity (drug use, illegal items, etc)
- No harm to themselves or neighbors
- The landlord is responsible for the Structural Integrity of the home and maintenance of any common areas if included. This can include any damaged stairways, railings, or water damage to critical parts of the housing.
- Adequate heat and hot water provisions in addition to pest control and sanitation, the tenants are responsible for paying the utility bill, but the landlord should provide the water heater, proper electrical wiring, and piping for water flow throughout the home. Rodent or insect infestations that are a hazard to public health must fall to the landlord as well as providing trash receptacles for rubbish.
- Provide, Locks and Keys, for all doors and entryways on the premise
- Address all safety issues. When the house needs repairs or safety measures installed landlords or property managers should step in to resolve the situation. Safety issues include flooding, fires, electrical malfunctions, etc. The landlord needs to install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and provide tenants with fire extinguishers.
- The most important responsibility of any landlord or manager is to be present. You must have an in-state staff at all times with updated contact information provided to tenants in case any emergency arises.
- Depending on the state you work in, you can be responsible for the installation of minimal lighting and ventilation throughout your property.
Notice of entry
When major repairs need to be made throughout the duration of a lease the landlord or property manager could be called in to make repairs or assign a contractor to complete the requested task. That being said, a 24 – 48 hr notice of entry is required, based on the severity of the issue or consent of the tenants. Situations that require notice are, related to, plumbing, heating, or non-structural damage. According to general laws, Part ii, title I, Chapter 186 Section 15B, premises can be entered under a court order or if they seemed abandoned. A 24-hour notice can be used for major projects or 48-hour notice for minor projects. There are emergency circumstances such as a fire in the home or flooding that do not require a notice of entry. Throughout the process of making repairs, you should always be in contact with the tenants with any updates on how the work will be done or if there are perceived delays.
No-No’s and Consequences
It is important to preserve the relationship between tenant and landlord. Providing the required notices is the minimum but providing your residents with a safe and inviting environment is the goal of successful rental experiences. That being said tenants come from all walks of life and are not always the most cooperative folks and some tensions could grow. It is important to remember that, regardless of tenants behavior, you are not to,
- Shut off a tenant’s utilities
- Lock a tenant out of the property
- Confiscate their personal belongings
- Physically remove a tenant
- Make any retaliation based on a tenants complaints or expression of their rights
When you fail to address issues in a timely manner or implement any of the stated “No-Nos” a tenant may have the right to pursue legal action in the form of,
- A tenant withholding rent, until the problem, is fixed
- The tenant, if applicable, could perform the work themselves and deduct the fees from the next month’s rent
- They can pay less rent or terminate the lease
- Tenants could call a building inspector if the housing conditions are causing them mental, physical, or emotional distress
- Lastly, they could sue for partial rent due to unsanitary or unsafe conditions
Make sure whether you’re homeowner, property manager or tenant that your responsibilities are well known. Relationships vary from home to home and knowing some of these basics can help maintain or even improve the comfort of your residency.
“Renters’ & Tenants’ Rights.” Www.nolo.com, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/renters-rights.
“Section 15B.” General Law – Part II, Title I, Chapter 186, Section 15B, malegislature.gov/laws/generallaws/partii/titlei/chapter186/section15b.