Is a Tenant or a Landlord Responsible for Maintenance & Repairs? | Nashville Property Management Education

Lee Blackburn

We know that when you’re renting out a property, it can create questions about who is responsible for taking care of maintenance, landscaping, and cleaning. Is it the tenant’s job or the landlord’s job? I

t’s important to be clear about these responsibilities and expectations in your lease agreement. It’s also important to think about liability and risk. You don’t want your tenant patching holes in the roof, for example.

Providing a Well-Maintained Nashville Rental Home

As the property owner, you are generally responsible for keeping the home habitable, safe, and well-maintained. Tenants will expect you to provide a move-in ready property where everything is working and clean. During the tenancy, you’ll need to respond to anything that goes wrong. If the heating goes out or the oven stops working, you’ll be responsible for replacing or repairing those systems and appliances. You’ll need to handle most of the emergency and routine maintenance work. You’ll also need to pay for it, unless it’s damage that was caused by the tenant’s abuse, misuse, or neglect.

Documenting the repair needs and your response to them is an important way to protect yourself and your property. Encourage your residents to report maintenance needs immediately. Put them in writing and take care of these issues right away. Ignoring a small problem will only lead to larger and more expensive repairs; not to mention will be very frustrating to your tenant.

Educating Tenants on Expectations and Responsibilities

While owners are going to be responsible for general maintenance and any repair work, it’s reasonable to expect your tenants to keep the home clean and in good condition. You should require them to change the air filters, for example. If you want them to mow the lawn, that’s also reasonable. Just make sure all of these requirements are included in the lease agreement.

The lease should indicate exactly what you expect the tenants to do. State that air filters must be changed every month or every three months. Indicate that a professional cleaning needs to be done at move-out. Details are important.

Owners also need to be proactive about avoiding deferred and unreported maintenance. Don’t make your tenants feel like you’re going to be angry with maintenance requests; you want to know when something needs work at your investment property. Encourage them to report repair issues immediately so you can decide how to move forward. This process of maintenance reporting should be included in the lease as well.

Reducing Liability and Risk

Reducing Liability and RiskLeaving tenants to make their own repairs around the property is never a good idea. Some tenants may want to be helpful and install a new water heater or trim back the trees on their own. This shouldn’t be allowed. If a resident gets injured or causes further damage to your property while trying to fix it, you’re going to find yourself in the middle of a messy and potentially expensive legal dispute.

It’s also important to always work with licensed and insured professionals when you need work done on your property. Establish great relationships with these vendors and contractors who will be sent into your home to make repairs. They can help you inspect the property informally and ensure your tenants are following the terms of the lease agreement. If something looks off, you’ll want them to report it to you. Good vendors are extremely important to Nashville property management.

If you have any questions about how to handle your responsibilities as a landlord and how to share your expectations with your tenants, contact us at Omni Property Management.