Property Management Blog

What Are Tenants Required to Maintain

Property Management Blog

What you’re responsible for as far as maintaining your rental home and what the landlord is responsible for should be outlined in your lease. If it’s not, your local or state laws may have general guidelines. Here are some items that may be your responsibility to take care of as a tenant that you may not know about.

Air filters:

Replacing air filters on a regular basis is typically a tenant responsibility. The homeowner may provide the filters, your property management company may include them as part of a Resident Benefits Package, or they may be your expense. Regardless of who provides or pays for them, you as a tenant are most likely responsible for changing them. 

What happens if you don’t replace the air filters? The heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is more efficient which can save or cost you money on your gas or electricity bill. Many leases also have a clause which states that tenants could be held responsible for repairs resulting is negligence. So, if the HVAC breaks and the cause is found to be due to the filter not being replaced, then you may be responsible for the cost of the repairs.

Water filters:

You may also be responsible for replacing water filters if your refrigerator has this feature.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries:

Batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are typically the tenant’s responsibility. When a smoke detector starts to beep, indicating that the battery is low and needs to be replaced, it’s very important (potentially lifesaving) that you replace the battery and not just remove it to stop the beeping. Every year, people die in fires due to smoke detectors that don’t have operable batteries.

Light bulbs:

Light bulbs are inexpensive and something that you can keep on hand to replace ones that burn out as needed. Most landlords will not pay for a handyman to come and change out burnt-out light bulbs.

Pest control:

What the landlord is responsible for and what the tenant is responsible for can depend on multiple factors. For example, if you just moved into the rental home and there are pests, then it’s more likely that the landlord will pay for pest control than if you’ve lived there for ten months and are starting to have issues which may be due to how you’re maintaining the property. If you leave food out, then it could be attracting pests. 

Other factors that determine who is responsible are local laws, if the property is a condominium or house (shared walls), and what type of pests you have. Having raccoon that is nesting under the back porch due to inadequate fencing is a different scenario than ants being attracted to your half-eaten candy bars.

Water softener:

Unless your landlord is paying for a service that comes and maintains the water softener on a regular basis, you are most likely responsible for maintaining it. If you have questions about how this is done, you can reach out to the landlord or your property manager for instructions if some weren’t already provided.

Lawn care:

This is a toss up since some areas and lawns are maintained by the tenant and others by the owner. Sometimes it’s a shared responsibility with simpler tasks, like watering and grass cutting being done by the tenant, while bush pruning, tree cutting, and possibly spring cleanup being handled by the landlord. Your lease should spell out what you need to do as a tenant (if anything) to maintain the lawn.

What the landlord or tenant are responsible for as far as maintaining the rental property can be a murky area. If you have any questions, review your lease and if it’s still unclear then contact your landlord or property manager to see what you’re responsible for while residing in the property as you may be held responsible for repairs resulting from negligence. 

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