Whether a rental property owner or a rental property management company in Baltimore, there are some tasks of maintenance that should be done regularly. From fixing the dripping or leaky faucet to testing the smoke detector, it’s the responsibility of the landlord or the property manager to keep the rental property in livable condition for the tenants.

Properties require maintenance to keep them well-managed, but the rental properties require more frequent maintenance than single-family homes because of their large size and number of occupants.

Not only to keep your investment property well-maintained but also to avoid costly emergency repairs and keep your tenants happy.

There are certain maintenance responsibilities that every landlord should follow on a regular basis. This will help you to keep your property well-maintained so that your tenants will longer in your rental property.

This way you can detect the small problems before they turn into big expenses. Here you will learn the responsibilities of both the landlord and tenants under landlord-tenant law for property maintenance. And also the optional tasks that a renter can take on to help the landlord in keeping the rental unit well-maintained.

What laws apply to a landlord’s repair responsibilities?

The landlords must meet certain health and safety standards as per the Landlord-Tenant Act. From plumbing, electricity, and heating to other basic amenities that should be provided by the landlord to his tenants is also part of property management. But, the responsibilities may differ to different state laws. Here are the general property maintenance tasks that are the duties of the landlord.

Landlord’s Responsibilities for Property Maintenance

1. Exterminate every month

It is important to provide a healthy and pest-free environment to the tenants in a rental property. So, when you own a rental property, you should exterminate it every month or every other month. This will ensure a safe environment in the rental property so that your tenants will face no issues.

Even if there are no signs of cockroaches, rodents, or any insect problem then also you should prevent such problem from occurring by doing pest control.

Critters can easily travel from one place to another so if you will limit the extermination to one apartment this will let them simply move to another part of the property. So, do not limit the extermination. This should be done on the entire property.

While is easy to buy pest control products and supplies yourself, the task is best to be left for a professional. This might cost you a lot however, this is a much cheaper option than the cost of losing current and prospective tenants due to pest problems.

2. Check for damages and leaks

It is important to check your property for water damages and leaks, especially after a heavy rainstorm, ice and snow have begun to melt, or on very humid days. This will help you to identify damage before it turns into a big expense. Look for the spots on the roofs, walls, and ceilings. Also, search for the signs of water around windows, showers, and toilets. Do not forget the sink, water heater, and boilers.

It is crucial to identify a water leak early so that you can prevent the property from big damages due to dampness. Because this can completely damage the walls, ceilings, as well as tenants’ possessions.

3. Test all carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms regularly

One of the most common things that landlords often forget to check is the smoke detectors in the rental property. You should check these devices monthly to ensure they are working properly. Whether the devices are wired or battery-operated, both should be tested properly.

You can fix a time or date when you will check these devices like when you will go to collect the rent or any other time whichever is convenient for you.

You know that these devices are life savior, and you could face legal actions for not keeping them in working condition. And also you must know that the average lifespan of a carbon monoxide detector is 5 years. Smoke alarms have a good lifespan of about 10 years. Replace them as needed.  

4. Make repair

One of the major property maintenance responsibilities of a landlord is to repair. It is the responsibility of the landlord to make repairs to keep the property in a habitable condition. Also, it is good to fix the small damages rather than waiting for the damages to turn into big expenses.

And if any damages occurred due to the tenants or their negligence, then being a landlord you have the full right to charge tenants for the cost of the repair.

5. Supply proper trash containers

Nobody would like to see their property in a dirty condition. So, being a landlord it’s your responsibility to provide a proper place to the tenants where they can dump the trashes. Provide them dustbins and make sure the number and size of the dustbins are appropriate as per the number of the tenants. And also suitable for the number of times the trash will be collected per week.

6. Clean the gutters

Inspect the gutters routinely to keep them neat and clean because they can easily become clogged with leaves and other debris. And this can cause leaks at your property. If you don’t want to spend time cleaning out the gutters then buy gutter guards. Also, other options available but, the basic thing is that the guard sits on top of the gutter through which only water will pass and not the debris.

Tenants’ Responsibilities for Property Maintenance

Tenants know that their landlord is responsible for every type of repair and maintenance work, but they have no idea or are not aware that they are also legally responsible for some maintenance work as per Landlord-Tenant Law.

Again these can differ by state, but the general maintenance work may include the following things: –

1. Keep the unit free from clutters

The tenants must dispose of their litter regularly and not let it pile up on the property. Keeping the garbage for longer can cause some severe health issues. Also, this is an open invitation for pests and insects, which may cause diseases. So, the tenants must maintain cleanliness in the property to prevent pest infestation and breathing issues.

2. Keep the property free from safety hazardous

The tenants should not do anything that will risk their and other tenants’ lives like removing the battery from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, they should keep all the emergency exits accessible. Nothing should interrupt or block any emergency exits in the unit.

3. Follow building and housing codes

If the tenants have signed the lease for two tenants then they should follow all the building and housing codes and should not add more occupants than the numbers of occupants they have signed the agreement for. This will not only fire and safety issues, but it will also create more wear and tear in the property and likely to higher utility bills.

4. Being respectful of the property

The tenants are responsible for the cleanliness and hygiene of the property. They must treat the property with care and maintain a standard level of cleanliness at the premises and should not be neglectful and abusive towards the property. And this includes the following: –  

Not damage the property

The tenants should not damage their unit as well as the other common areas of the property. Normal wear tear is common and expected but severe damages to the property like cracks on the countertop will not be accepted at any cost. The tenants will be charged for the repair cost.

Plumbing fixture

The tenants should keep all plumbing fixtures neat and clean so that they will be no rust, mold, or excessive dirt. And use the fixtures for their intended purpose, which means trash cannot be flushed down the toilet, etc. So, the tenant should take care of these things to keep the rental unit in top condition.

Landlord’s supplied appliances

The landlord provides some amenities to his renters, appliances are one amongst them. The tenants must keep all the supplied appliances provided by the landlord. And also use them for their intended purpose, which means you cannot use the dishwasher to wash your tennis shoes. So, keep all these in mind and be respectful of the things provided by the landlord.

Even if the landlord has hired a property management company in Baltimore for his Baltimore rental property then he can stay relaxed and stress-free as the property manager will handle everything.

The tenants are still responsible for maintenance tasks that we have already discussed above. And the landlord can also negotiate with the tenants for additional maintenance, which includes: –

Seasonal maintenance

You can ask your tenant or simply mention in the rental agreement for season maintenance which includes – grass cutting, shoveling snow, picking up branches /racking leaves, cleaning the gutter, etc.

Take out the garbage

You can negotiate with your tenant for taking out the garbage and bring the dustbin or pail back to its place when the garbage has been collected. This will help you when you don’t live near your rental property.

Keep the common areas clean

The tenants are responsible to keep their unit area neat and cleaned, but you can also ask them to keep the common areas clean. This could include sweeping, mopping, and also keep the area free from any debris and clutter.

Report problems immediately

If any type of problem or issue occurred at the property then a tenant must report it to the landlord immediately. Even if it happened due to the negligence of the tenants, they should try to fix it without informing the landlord.

Make repairs

You and your tenant can agree to repair. The tenants will be responsible for minor repairs and even for major repairs if you trust their skill level. This could be risky, so you should only ask the tenants to repair if they are professional and have the license for this. For ex- if the tenant is a plumber and has a license to perform the repair for a leaky faucet or plumbing fixtures only then you can trust the tenant with repair work. Or else, just ask them to call the professional for this and you will pay them later.

Illegal maintenance requirements

It is the responsibility of the landlord to make repairs to keep the property well-maintained and perform repairs. You simply cannot put a clause on your lease or rental agreement that forces a tenant to be responsible for making repairs and all the maintenance work in the property. It’s different if you and your tenants are mutually agreed to your self-made rules or regulations for maintenance and repair work.

And if the damages occurred due to the tenants’ mistake or negligence then yes, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to fix the issue themselves. Or, if the landlord allows then they can call their handyman to fix the issue.

So, these are the maintenance the landlord and tenants are responsible for. To know more about this in detail you can go through landlord-tenant law. Because every state has different laws.

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