Many first-time tenants think renting a property means everything is taken care of. While there are certain advantages to being a tenant, there are things they need to be aware of when it comes to maintenance, upkeep and expectations.
Renting out a property means respecting the Landlord who owns or maintains it, just as you would your own home. Naturally, you aren’t responsible for every single part of the property, but there are certain expectations Landlords place on their tenants, which are easy to follow.
ROUTINE MAINTENANCE & CLEANLINESS
Needless to say, renting a property does not give a tenant carte blanche to behave badly, or make a mess. It’s the responsibility of the tenant to take the garbage out, clean appliances like refrigerators and stoves, and maintain overall cleanliness of the property.
While some tenants may think it’s their “right” to live in squalor-like conditions, the truth is a bit more complex. Mold growth in bathrooms can be a health hazard, as can the buildup of rust and grime. Excess dirt can damage appliances, leading to unnecessarily and costly repairs or replacement purchases. And of course, leaving garbage strewn about invites vermin, including cockroach or fruit fly infestations, maggots, etc. This should be unacceptable at all times, regardless of whether the home is yours, or not.
Tenants should exercise the utmost care when renting out a property. Property insurance was never designed to cover reckless behavior that leads to excess damage. Therefore, it’s important that tenants exercise responsibility and care when moving furniture, inviting guests over, or handling various appliances. Similarly, Landlords who allow pets on the premises expect tenants to take responsibility for any damages that might be incurred.
It’s important for tenants to be aware of other potential forms of damage, such as tampering with smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, blocking emergency exits, or misusing rooms for a purpose not originally intended. And finally, tenants should always get permission from the Landlord before proceeding with painting the walls, or other renovations. They may look nice to you, but the Landlord may consider the property to be irrevocably damaged, and hold you responsible.
REPORTING ISSUES PROMPTLY
Normal wear and tear is standard fare with any property, but tenants can exercise a bit more caution by performing an inspection, prior to moving in. Make sure to identify any damages or problem areas of a property beforehand, so they can be dealt with accordingly. Oftentimes, Landlords will agree to fix these issues before you move in, which can lead to a smoother transaction.
However, it’s possible that Landlords may miss these areas completely, and hold the tenant responsible for damages at a later date. This misunderstanding can quickly blossom into a colossal (and costly) headache, so tenants would be wise to protect themselves. Human beings are fallible, and it’s important to talk about any potential issues before the tenant moves in, at which point they may become harder to deal with.
Once established, tenants should keep a close eye on the property, and perform the occasional routine inspection to make sure everything is Okay. It’s easy to miss things like water leakage from bathtubs, faucets or broken air conditioners, as well as exterior damage. Keep a checklist handy, and perform inspections once every month or two, just to be sure everything’s in tip-top shape. The longer a problem is left to sit, the greater the financial damage incurred, and Landlords may hold you responsible. When in doubt, always think of the property as your own, and give it the same care and attention. After all, it only takes a few minutes to give the property a once-over.
LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE
Depending on your rental type and contract, Landlords may either hire third-party lawn mowers and snow removal companies, or they may dictate that you bear the responsibility. This is usually established early on, but it’s best to get it in writing before moving in. Some tenants cannot perform these tasks due to health issues, though that won’t hold up if there’s a conflict.
Most tenants have no problem cutting grass or shoveling snow from walkways and paths, but it’s best to know this moving forward. Sometimes, Landlords will hire contractors for larger duties, while still expecting tenants to clip the occasional hedge, or shovel and salt the front porch and walkway during wintertime. Remember, Landlords and property managers may be liable for injuries sustained by visitors, delivery people and even local authorities, so it’s important to abide by their wishes.
Common sense is a huge part of being a tenant, but there’s something to be said for courtesy and consideration, as well. Triple-A tenants know how beneficial it is to respect another’s property, maintain it, and give the Landlord peace of mind. This can lead to glowing reviews and reference letters down the road, as well as extra perks that can be negotiated with future property owners.
Landlords tend to be wary of bad tenants, and they’ll do everything they can to prevent one from renting their property. Behaving like a dream tenant creates a much better and more enjoyable dynamic between both parties, while at the same time preventing any unfortunate legal or financial burdens. When in doubt, communicate openly with your Landlord to properly lay out the ground rules, or reach an amicable compromise. Many Landlords are more flexible than you might think, provided they trust their tenants with the maintenance and care of their property.