What are the landlord’s repair and maintenance responsibilities?

What are the landlord’s repair and maintenance responsibilities?

Basically, the landlord of a rental unit is responsible for providing a “habitable’ unit for a tenant. The term “habitable” means that the rental unit must be fit to live in, be free from hazards or defects, and becompliant with all state and local building and health

Okay. So, what exactly qualifies as uninhabitable? The following living conditions would qualify as uninhabitable: no working plumbing, gas, or electric, broken windows or doors, or unclean buildings and unkempt grounds that are not sanitary and safe.

The key thing to remember is that if a landlord does not keep habitable living conditions, that landlord could be found negligent in a court of law if sued by a tenant. In fact, a court may allocate damages to a tenant by reducing the rent the tenant pays to a landlord.

There are some basic steps you can follow to keep your property habitable. The basic landlord responsibilities include: Complying with all state and local health and building codes maintaining structural components and a reasonably weather-protected unit providing the necessary heat, electric, and hot and cold water facilities making any requested repairs promptly ensuring that living conditions are peaceful and quiet, as well as hazard-free maintaining a “pest-free” environmet Inspecting the property each time it is leased to determine whether or not it meets safety and adequate living standards.

Giving notice before entering a rental unit,
except in cases of emergency Abiding by all
stipulations in a lease agreement.

Allowing 15 days written notice of any
changes to a month-to-month agreemernt.
Adhering to the legal eviction process if
evicting a tenant. Under the warranty of habitability, a landlord has a duty to provide the amenities that are essential to maintaining the tenant’s living requirements.

In other words, you as a landlord give your word that you will keep the unit in good living condition. Thus, if a defect in a building affects a tenant, a landlord may be liable for damages suffered by the tenant.

On the other hand, the warranty of habitability does not require a landlord to make sure the rented property is aesthetically pleasing to the tenant. The warranty of habitability is also not violated if a building has a minor housing code violation that does not affect the habitability of the unit.


Although landlords are primarily responsible for ensuring the habitability of the rental unit, both landlords and tenants are responsible for certain repairs. For instance, the landlord must perform any maintenance work that is necessary for keeping the rental unit livable for the tenant.

The landlord is also legally responsible for repairing any defects, and will be liable for any injuries resulting from a defect that
the landlord failed to repair or repaired ineffectively However, a landlord is not responsible for repairing damages that were caused by the tenant or the tenant’s family, guests or pets.

Due Diligence and Due Care

A landlord is required to inspect and resolve all defects and hazards that may exist within a rental unit prior to a tenant’s move-in date. If defects or hazards are found on a property and can be determined as a potential hazard, the landlord can be held accountable for any injuries or illnesses inflicted upon the tenants.

In other words, the landlord must exercise “due diligence. He or she has the responsibility to investigate and identify any harmful issues. A landlord must also exercise “due care” He or she is required to do something about any defects, issues or other findings that arose during the due diligence.

The landlord can be found liable for any dangers on rented property, or for violating safety statues or regulations. Landlords are not responsible for any dangers that the landlord has no control over preventing.

Security Deposit

A landlord is obligated to return the entire security deposit to the tenant at the end of the tenancy providing the tenant did not damage the apartment beyond normal wear and tear. If the landlord keeps any portion of the security deposit to repair a tenant’s damage to the apartment, the landlord must provide an itemized list to the tenant of the damage and the actual cost of any repairs.

Leasing Space

Landlords have similar responsibilities when leasing out space for commercial purposes. A landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the leased premises, as well as heat, water and any other services agreed upon in the lease. A landlord cannot force a tenant to renew a lease agreement more than 90 days before the existing agreement terminates, and the landlord must provide the tenant with at least 30 days written notice of the landlord’s intention not to renew the rental agreement.

Laws May Differ in Your State

Because landlord-tenant disputes are primarily governed by state law, it is important to understand your rights in your particular state. If confronted with a landlord-tenant dispute, consult an attorney as to your rights under your state’s laws.

1. How long have your tenants been residing at the location? If they are long timers, and you just cannot bear to lose them because they are clean and pay rent on time; then some minor fixups are ok. Painting, maybe new carpet (if it was worn when they moved in) just some minor facelifts to keep them happy.

2. If they are new tenants, less than a year
residing, let me ask, when they signed the
lease were these upgrades agreed to? If not,
you have ZERO responsibility to upgrade.
Barring leaking water water issues when
they signed the lease and nothing was
agreed to in writing, you have no responsibility to update. (Water damage is by far the worst in our lontime experience)

My advice, the time to say no has passed. So no is NOW. Ill give you a little phrase we use when encountering these issues which has worked well for us through the years. “You knew the condition of the place when you moved in, if you don’t like it, move. Nobody is holding you hostage” This will do one of two things, either they realize the remodeling party’s over and you both live in landlord/ tenant peace. Or they get angry and move onto the next sucker landlord. You think you’re the only one? Oh, and if they choose to move then make sure it is under the provisions of the lease, 30 days written notice to you (not verbal) and they are still responsible for the rent during that time. They cannot use a security deposit
for rent it is for damages only, let me make that very clear.

Then either move forward if they stay as you have asserted your business relationship (this is a business whether you have one unit or hundreds) or let them go minus fair and equitable security deposit deduction for damages they caused while living there,
(normal wear and tear excepted- look up in your jurisdiction what is normal wear and tear, here it’s three years for paint and 7-10 years carpet if it’s within this period then they are responsible for it). I would imagine (hope) you took photos of the rental
unit prior to their moving in, keep them for record as it should state in your lease with them they are responsible to leave your property (emphasize YOUR) in as good or better condition than when they moved

Remember, you and your tenants can and should be “friendly” to each other, it makes life easier, but they are NOT your friends. Learn to distinguish the difference. It is a creed I live by as an experienced landlord ( was a sucker for what you are going through when I started and my sister who came into the business was the worst! She got emotional about their cute children, how nice and wonderful they were, all kinds of things until she was burned enough.

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