Property Responsibilities for Landlords - What Do You Need to Know
If you believed that renting out your property to tenants will only bring you financial benefits and will not require any efforts on your side, you were probably wrong. The fact that you no longer live at your property does not set you free from all maintenance responsibilities related to it. In fact, you should be just as committed to it as you were when you were living in it, and this article will prove this to you! Read on, if you are interested to find out what are the most common responsibilities of a landlord and stick to them.
- The fact that you no longer live in your house does not mean that you will not have to pay its mortgage (if you have one). A private loan or a mortgage cannot be transferred to your tenants and you should not expect them to pay your bank debts.
- The same rule applies to your governmental property taxes - you have to pay them yourself as they cannot be transferred to your tenants. In addition to the property taxes which you have paid so far, if you rent out your apartment, you may have to pay some additional taxes on the income that you receive from the rent that is paid to you by your tenants. All this information is usually included in the rental contract which both sides have.
- Paying the utility bills. Although it is your tenants that should provide you with money to pay the utility bills, it is you who have to do it on their behalf. It is your obligation to check the electricity, water, internet, cable TV, and other bills. You should tell them the exact amount that has to be paid, collect the money, and pay them to the respective utility service providers. If you fail to provide your tenants with assistance on paying the utilities, this action can be accepted as a lease violation.
- You are responsible for the regular property maintenance. You need to call a specialist to fix anything that is not working right or replace whatever gets broken whenever it does. Some of these tasks include seasonal gutter cleaning, examination of the smoke detectors and other alarms around the house/apartment, arranging the trash pick up and recycling with a private company if that is not organized by the local government, annual check up of the electrical and ventilation system, etc.
- You as a landlord should also supervise whether the tenants act responsibly towards your property. You can do this through inspecting the house/flat once in a few months or collecting information from your neighbours on whether everything is OK.
- If any pest infestations appear on the territory of your property and your tenants can prove that this is not a result of their negligence towards the house/apartment, you may be asked to hire a pest control specialist and pay for his services as well as the chemicals used.
- The landlord is also responsible for organizing major property repairs. Of course, this is a matter of negotiation with the tenants, as some landlords prefer to reduce the rent and ask the tenants to care care of the respective job in return.In other words, you may require that any handyman services are covered by your tenants but you need to settle that in advance and lock it into your rental agreement or contract.
- It is also your responsibility to make sure that all locks and keys in your property are secure before offering it to a tenant. Any lock replacement costs or insurance expenses should be covered by the property owner who is leasing the place. Skip that step and your tenants will have a future reason for deposit withdrawal.
- Should there be any plumbing issues both related to pipeline clogs and major plumbing system issues, the landlord is the person who should pay for any professional repairs. Although most of the problems that cause a sewer or drain clog are not the landlord's fault, the tenants cannot be held responsible for plumbing repairs in 90% of the cases.
- The owner is also the one who has to pay for any gardening or ground services. The tenants can also hire a gardener but usually the costs are transferred to the owner or deducted from the rent.
- Junk removal is another major part of a property's maintenance, so you should not neglect it. If you have chosen a private rubbish collection company, you should either transfer your duties to your tenants as to an upfront agreement or continue to take care of this service while you have tenants living in your town house or apartment building.
- If there is vandalism or malicious acts like graffiti drawings on your property's facade, for example, the landlord is again the person who will have to take care of eventual repair works or repainting. If you want to limit the amount of duties you have towards your home's upkeep while you rent it out to tenants, you need to make sure that specific property maintenance clauses are added to your rental agreement. In all cases you'd better consult a lawyer, if you are not quite sure how to minimize your maintenance responsibilities.
Being a proper landlord is a job on it's own and many efforts must be put. It is not just "collecting the checks" as you can see. So do your best and your tenants will love you.
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