Both renters and property managers have responsibilities. Understanding your tenant responsibilities as a renter can help you maintain the conditions of your lease and keep your security deposit. Renters’ responsibilities vs. landlords’ responsibilities: what’s the difference? In every landlord-renter relationship, landlords and tenants have their own responsibilities. You may not understand at first what you
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Apartment Living, Hearst
Both renters and property managers have responsibilities. Understanding your tenant responsibilities as a renter can help you maintain the conditions of your lease and keep your security deposit.
Renters’ responsibilities vs. landlords’ responsibilities: what’s the difference?
In every landlord-renter relationship, landlords and tenants have their own responsibilities. You may not understand at first what you should expect your landlord to maintain. How do you know when to submit a maintenance request with your property manager or landlord instead of trying to fix something yourself? Who is responsible for damage vs. ordinary wear and tear?
Before you rent a place or sign a lease agreement, learn about a renter’s responsibility when renting a house or apartment.
What are renters’ obligations?
First, what does it mean for a landlord or renter to have obligations? Put succinctly, a renter’s obligations are what you need to do as a renter to uphold the terms of your lease under your city and state’s laws and regulations. Some of these obligations will be explicitly written out in your lease, especially when they don’t traditionally go to either a landlord or tenant. In other cases, renter and landlord obligations are understood to be a part of your business relationship.
What are your tenant responsibilities for maintenance as a renter? Check the terms of your lease to make sure, but in general, you can assume that as a renter, you’ll be responsible for the following items.
1. Keep the rental unit sanitary and safe
You are responsible for keeping a rental home or apartment in a reasonably clean and safe condition. Generally speaking, you should prevent an excessive accumulation of dirt or dust in the rental property. This provision also usually means cleaning up your kitchen to avoid attracting rodents, for example, and not letting cardboard or paper become so damp that mold begins to grow on the materials. You should also make sure that fire exits are accessible. As a renter, you must also follow the portions of local building and housing codes about safety and health standards that apply to renters.
2. Dispose of trash
Renters also need to clean up their own trash around the house and dispose of it regularly in the appointed bins. Depending on lease terms, you’re likely responsible for taking trash and recycling bins to the curb so that trash can be collected weekly. Disposing of trash regularly keeps the property pest- and rodent-free, helping to prevent costly pest removal or rodent damages.
3. Maintain and correctly operate appliances and fixtures
While you don’t need to make repairs to your apartment’s electric or plumbing fixtures, you should request for your property manager to make repairs as soon as possible. You are responsible for keeping fixtures such as toilets, showers, heating, and cooling systems in good condition and only using them for their intended purposes.
You’re also responsible for maintaining and properly using appliances such as your dishwasher, laundry machine, or microwave oven. Always let your landlord know right away if these appliances in your rental apartment or house are not working correctly so they can repair them. Your property manager may call a repair person for you. Depending on the lease agreement, they may or may not cover this cost.
4. Prevent major property damage
As part of your rental contract, you will likely pay your property manager or property management company a security deposit. The security deposit is refundable at the end of your lease. However, your property manager can use the security deposit to pay for any damage you inflict on the rental property that goes beyond normal wear and tear.
You will want to make sure that you, your guests, or anyone else you allow on your property does not damage the unit, including common areas or places you have access to, such as a backyard or basement. A renter could also be financially responsible for removing fixtures such as appliances or lights, violating occupancy requirements, misusing designated rooms, or damage due to reckless conduct or negligence.
5. Keep your landlord in the loop
In light of tenant maintenance responsibilities, you should notify your landlord as soon as possible when any issues with your rental unit. Let your landlord or property manager know when repairs are needed and give notice according to your lease terms before you move out. While your landlord is responsible for some of the maintenance within your apartment, your landlord may not know that a repair is needed if you don’t say something. Staying in touch will go a long way toward maintaining a peaceful landlord-renter relationship.
6. Be quiet and respectful
Renters are also expected to maintain minimum noise levels and be respectful of neighbors. This may include acknowledging reserved parking spaces or common areas. It may also include limiting visitors or noises after a certain time. While renters should have the freedom to invite whomever they want to their property, they’re expected to follow local city laws and regulations.
Maintaining an apartment or rental and being respectful of neighbors may require other tasks as well, like cutting the lawn or removing snow. It’s always a good idea to discuss and negotiate who handles these responsibilities ahead of time. Otherwise, renters could be stuck paying the bill for city violations for grass that’s too long or for failing to remove snow promptly.
7. Pay rent on time
Property managers expect renters to pay their rent on time. Property owners use the rent to pay the mortgage, make repairs, and cover insurance costs. Timely rent payments are often included in the lease and may lead to penalties and violations if the renter doesn’t fulfill their obligation. Depending on the lease agreement, a property manager can typically evict a renter if they miss a certain number of monthly payments.
What are a landlord’s responsibilities?
Of course, your landlord or property manager also needs to keep up with several responsibilities. Explore the following non-exhaustive list of your landlord’s likely responsibilities:
Provide a habitable living space, for example, by keeping the rental property’s structural elements intact, repairing all equipment and appliances, handling pest infestations, and disclosing a history of environmental hazards, such as lead paint or asbestos.Follow relevant laws and regulations to maintain the safety of the property for renters.Ensure a quiet living environment by making sure residents aren’t disruptive.Provide relevant safety equipment, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the property.Supervise hired personnel such as maintenance workers and contractors when they enter or are around the rental unit.Respond to renter requests for repairs promptly. Maintain a safe living space free of hazards.
How to document tenant responsibilities
Documenting that you’re meeting your tenant responsibilities can help protect you in case of any future disputes. A few ways to document your renter responsibilities include:
Photographs: Photographs can help prove that your rental is in the same condition as it was when you moved in. It’s always a good idea to take date-stamped photographs of each room in your apartment when you move in. Be sure to document any known damages that were present before moving in, including peeling paint or broken outlets.Videos: Video evidence can provide an additional layer of proof. Use your smartphone to do a walk-through of your apartment before you move any of your belongings in. Save the video to compare to when you move out.Repair receipts: If you pay for any repairs or maintenance, be sure to save receipts. You can use these to show that you paid out of pocket for maintenance or repairs.Communication evidence: Keeping track of your lease, emails, and text messages that outline specific inclusions or exclusions in the least can be useful. You may be able to use this information later to prove that you requested a repair in a timely manner.
The landlord is also responsible for normal wear and tear of the apartment or unit. Normal wear and tear occur naturally when a home is occupied, not due to an accident or renter’s negligence. Items that constitute normal wear and tear include scuffs on or small holes in walls, normal wear on carpets or flooring, and small stains.
FAQ: Renter responsibilities
Your responsibilities should be outlined in your lease agreement. You can always turn to your lease agreement for clarification if you have any disputes.
If you and your landlord or property manager still can’t come to an agreement after referring to your lease agreement, you may need to turn to a small claims court in your city and state.
That depends on the details outlined in your lease agreement. Your property manager may use your security deposit to cover costs related to you breaking your lease.
While the above information is the generally accepted division of responsibilities between landlords and renters, check the terms of your lease as well as local, state, and federal laws to make sure you know exactly what you’re responsible for when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance of your rental apartment or home.
Renting inevitably comes with certain tenant responsibilities. Get up to speed on the division of responsibilities between landlords and renters before you sign a lease. When you’re ready to start your search, look for apartments for rent on Zumper and find your perfect place.