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Disclaimer: Legislation varies from state to state, and the information provided here is a general guideline. Always consult your local laws and regulations for specific details regarding rental property responsibilities in your area.

Renting a property can sometimes become a confusing ordeal, with both landlords and tenants unsure about who is responsible for various tasks. Misunderstandings about property-related responsibilities, ranging from gardening to appliance repairs, are quite common. Let’s break down these responsibilities to make your rental experience smoother:

Gardens and Lawns:

  • Garden maintenance can sometimes be a tricky issue. It depends on whether tenants have green thumbs or not.
  • To prevent your garden from turning into a wilderness, the lease agreement should clearly define who, whether it’s the landlord or tenant, is responsible for different aspects of upkeep.
  • Typically, tenants handle general garden maintenance, including lawn mowing, weeding, leaf raking, fertilizing, pruning, hedge trimming, and watering unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement.
  • Tenants should also promptly report any garden-related issues, such as blocked gutters, insect infestations, flooding, or plant problems. Neglecting to report obvious issues may make tenants liable for resulting damages.
  • Major gardening tasks and repairs, like landscaping and tree pruning, are the landlord’s responsibility, as are jobs requiring specialized skills, such as tree lopping.
  • Landlords usually manage aspects like planting, providing hoses and sprinklers, maintaining irrigation systems, cleaning gutters, and tree care. If any plants or gardening equipment get damaged during the tenancy, it’s the landlord’s duty to replace them, unless tenant negligence caused the damage.

Pest Control:

  • Assigning responsibility for pest infestations, whether it’s rats, ants, termites, or other pests, can be complex. Typically, the responsible party should address the problem.
  • If the lease agreement doesn’t mention pest control, tenancy legislation may determine responsibility. Most acts require tenants to maintain cleanliness and take reasonable care of the property. If their negligence causes a pest infestation, they may be held responsible.
  • Landlords are responsible for providing a clean, pest-free living environment. In most cases, this includes pest and vermin control unless tenant negligence caused the infestation.
  • Note that landlord insurance policies usually exclude pests and vermin. Therefore, whoever is responsible for the pest issue must cover the management and repair costs.

Repairs:

  • Landlords must ensure that the property remains in reasonable condition throughout the tenancy, and they typically handle repairs and maintenance.
  • Tenants, however, are responsible for repairing damages caused by themselves, their children, pets, or guests.
  • Landlords should promptly address urgent and emergency repairs, with definitions varying by jurisdiction. Urgent repairs are usually those necessary to maintain essential services or prevent harm or inconvenience to tenants.
  • Most landlords authorize property managers to act on their behalf. If a tenant can’t reach the landlord for an urgent repair in self-managed situations, they may need to arrange repairs themselves and seek reimbursement from the landlord.

Maintenance:

  • Landlords must maintain the rental property in a reasonable state of repair, following building, health, and safety laws. This includes plumbing and the upkeep of provided appliances.
  • Tenants are responsible for basic household maintenance like changing light bulbs, vacuuming, cleaning windows, dusting, and removing cobwebs.
  • In cases of mold caused by fixtures’ faults, landlords must address the issue. Tenants should ensure proper ventilation to prevent mold problems.

Security:

  • Providing a safe and secure property is the landlord’s responsibility. This includes meeting rental property security standards set by local legislation, such as door locks, window locks, and exterior lights.
  • Tenants who wish to install additional security measures generally need the landlord’s permission and should also maintain them.

Smoke Alarms:

  • Landlords are responsible for fitting compliant smoke alarms and ensuring they meet local legislation requirements.
  • Landlords generally maintain smoke alarms, replace batteries in battery-powered alarms, and install new batteries at the start of each new tenancy.

Air-Conditioning:

  • Some states may require heating in rental properties, but air-conditioning is typically not mandatory.
  • If provided, maintenance responsibility should be detailed in the lease agreement.

Broken Appliances:

  • Repairs or replacements for broken appliances depend on ownership.
  • Landlords are responsible for fixing or replacing appliances they provide.
  • Tenant-owned appliances are not the landlord’s responsibility.

Plumbing:

  • Landlords must ensure plumbing is safe and suitable for tenants to use.
  • In case of a plumbing emergency, landlords should arrange repairs within legal timeframes.
  • Tenants should also prevent issues caused by their negligence.

To avoid disputes, it’s essential to understand your responsibilities based on legislation and outline them clearly in the tenancy agreement. A good property manager can ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, using property condition reports and regular inspections to ensure compliance.

 

The following article serves solely for informational purposes; readers are strongly advised to conduct their own research and seek professional guidance before making any real estate-related decisions, as the content may not be exhaustive or applicable to all jurisdictions, and neither the author nor any affiliated parties can be held liable for any consequences arising from its use.

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