“I’ll sue you!” are words that every landlord fears. However, if you educate yourself on your landlord responsibilities, you can minimize issues and protect yourself.
Whether you’re a new landlord or an experienced one, it’s always good to review your legal responsibilities every year. Laws and regulations about habitations are always changing and your first responsibility as a landlord is to stay up-to-date with all of them.
5 Landlord Responsibilities Every Landlord Must Know
The rules and regulations that landlords must follow are outlined in a document called the “Warranty of Habitability.” To make sure you’re complying with all of them, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the Habitation Suitable for Seasonal Weather?
As the landlord, you are legally obligated to provide warm and dry spaces for your tenants to live in as this can affect their health. This means all windows and doors should be able to close properly and there should be no water leaking in from anywhere when it’s raining.
2. Are You Following Up With All Repair and Maintenance Issues?
Before you put up an ad. or hand over any keys, make sure all heating, electrical, and gas devices in the house or apartment are working properly. If anything is broken, you must fix them as quickly as possible. If you don’t respond to repair requests or you take too long to fix broken mandatory appliances, your tenants can sue you for negligence.
3. Is the Environment Free of Chemical or Physical Hazards?
Lead from old paint, exposed wires, and old water pipes are some common examples of hazards that make a home inhabitable and dangerous. If you are the landlord, you must make sure none of these elements are exposed or present. They can lead to serious health issues or worse, irreversible damages to your tenants.
4. Is the House or Building Safe?
Can all doors and windows be locked? Are all staircases, hallways, and exits free of debris or blockage? If you can’t answer yes to either of these questions, you’ve got a problem. For trespassing reasons, fire, and natural disaster reasons, all homes must be safe from dangers inside and outside the house.
5. Are All Living Spaces Sanitory?
Are there proper places to discard garbage and are they being taken away regularly? Garbage pile-up can lead to unsanitary or unkempt spaces. A child can get hurt from stepping on broken glass or a person can trip over cardboard, etc.
Injuries caused by objects in common spaces (outside of their personal rooms and apartments) are your responsibility.
Take Landlord Responsibilities Seriously
Landlord and tenant disputes are never pretty and if you’re found negligent in court due to one of the reasons above, you can be fined up to thousands of dollars or required to lower your tenant’s rent.