What are Tenants Responsible For in a Rental Property?
Just as landlords have specific responsibilities in any rental agreement, so too do tenants have certain responsibilities. For the most part, tenants are only required to maintain the premises in respectable condition, and to perform minor maintenance activities. Such things as changing the batteries in smoke detectors or changing the filters on an HVAC unit are about the limit of tenant maintenance activities because anything more involved than that could easily end up costing you a lot more in having to repair their work. Below is an overview of the things that tenants are typically responsible for in a standard lease agreement.
If a tenant has done something which caused the property to be damaged, for instance breaking a light fixture or throwing something through a window, the tenant is definitely liable for paying the cost of repairs. The tenant should not be allowed to fix the issue on their own, because that could end up worsening the situation. However, they should be held financially responsible for the damage and should pay for the cost of repairs.
In order to be sure about any damages caused by a tenant, you should be taking frequent inspections of the property, so you can tell what has changed in between inspections. Another tricky area is additional damage which is caused by a tenant’s failure to report the original damage. For instance, if your tenant fails to alert you to a leaky shower area, that leak could weaken the floor and eventually cause a collapse of the bathroom floor. In situations like these, the tenant would also be responsible for fixing the floor, because they should have reported the leak in the first place.
It should be made clear to all prospective tenants that they are responsible for their own possessions, and that renter’s insurance is the easiest way to handle that responsibility. Not all tenants store valuables in their apartment, but sometimes even furniture can have considerable value and should be detailed on a renter policy. If anything were to happen, like perhaps a fire in the dwelling, all those valuables would be lost without reimbursement unless they were covered by an insurance policy. Make sure tenants understand that you do not carry insurance on the contents of their apartment and that all responsibility for doing so rests with them.
This doesn’t happen often in rental agreements, but there are cases where a tenant is actually a professional contractor of some sort. In this case, it just might be that you can allow them to carry out various types of repairs, at least those in their area of expertise. Assuming that they demonstrate an acceptable level of competence, you could then even engage their services for other tenants who require some kind of maintenance work. If the repair job calls for specialty tools or equipment, your skilled tenant probably won’t have any of those on-hand and may be unable to complete the work. In that case, it’s best to just go ahead and hire a professional who is properly licensed, insured, and equipped to carry out whatever kind of repairs are necessary to the premises.