The questions we often get surrounding the landlord-tenant relationship involve who is responsible for what, and who pays for what. Today, we’re talking about how to determine what your responsibilities are and what your tenants need to take care of.
Traditionally, the property owner pays for most maintenance issues. If it isn’t tenant damage and it isn’t normal wear and tear that causes a toilet to start running or the washing machine to start making a funny noise, the owner pays for the repair. That responsibility changes a little bit when actual damage is caused by the tenant. If a tenant has used an appliance inappropriately or their friends come over and break something, the tenant will be responsible for paying for that repair. So typically it’s the owner who pays, unless the tenant has caused damage.
When it comes to batteries, air filters and light bulbs, the tenant is responsible for replacements and costs until a new tenant moves in. So, before a tenant moves in, you want to replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and you also want to change the air filters and provide fresh light bulbs. Once a tenant moves in, it’s up to the tenant to replace light bulbs and batteries, which is easy because you know when those things need to be replaced. With air filters, we require tenants to change them every 30 days. This ensures the HVAC is protected.
Tenants are typically responsible for paying for all their utilities at the property. We do have a couple of homes where utilities are included. However, 90 percent of our properties have the tenants fully responsible for the cost of utilities. State that requirement in the lease so everyone understands and is on the same page. When they are responsible for utilities, the tenants will open their own accounts with the utility companies. That way they don’t have to pay us for their utilities. It keeps things easy to handle and very clear cut.
If you have any questions or need any clarification about the landlord-tenant relationship, please contact us at Mill House Properties, and we’ll talk you through any additional information you might need.