Landlords have a responsibility to their tenants: they are not only providing a service, but they are ensuring that the tenants have a safe space to sleep at night, a place where they can unwind after a long day, and something that they can call home.
This responsibility includes ensuring that all maintenance is up to date and that there is nothing in the yard that could harm the people staying there.
However, this case is not always as clear cut as it seems and it is usually the number one reason for a sour landlord-tenant relationship.
Hurting the bottom line
Landlords have the idea that the more money spent on repairs, the less profit there is to be made at the end of the month.
The result? A tacky, tasteless yard and rental unit.
This concern always needs to be weighed against the fact that a run-down or dirty property will not attract the tenants that you want. It is much more expensive to have an empty property than to maintain it, attend to any pressing repairs, and get help from an expert agent that will select good tenants to go with your beautiful rental unit.
The Rental Housing Act also provides for the landlord to maintain any type of property that is rented out, whether it is internally or externally.
It does, however, stipulate that landlords and tenants might make alternative deals and arrangements. In this case, it is important that it is stipulated in the lease agreement who is responsible for the maintenance and who will cover the necessary costs.
It would also be a good idea to communicate this verbally to the tenant so that they know where they stand in their landlord-tenant relationship.
In any situation, it is important to set the tone and to manage any type of expectations from the outset.
Tenants have to understand what to expect of the landlord and the landlord needs to know what they can expect from tenants in return. For example, tenants need to know that the landlord is handing over a unit that is fit for purpose or in a habitable condition – in other words, it should be safe to occupy, clean, and neat.
Everything such as lights and water should be in working condition, especially if the lease states that water and lights are included in their monthly rent. This, however, does not mean that landlords are responsible for keeping the unit neat, clean, and tidy.
Landlords, on the other hand, need to ensure that they are responsible for any type of daily wear and tear that might occur in and around the unit – this is damage that has resulted from the everyday use of an item or weather damage. This is applicable even if the tenant has used that item.
Good examples of things that need regular maintenance are door handles, locks, gates, pool pumps, and geysers. Repair or replacement of these items should happen as soon as possible. Things of the aesthetics, like repainting the walls, can happen later at a pre-arranged date.
If the property is in a sectional title complex, some exterior maintenance items like waterproofing or garden upkeep might be the responsibility of the body corporate and not the landlord. This should also be stipulated in the lease.
Need for inspection report
There should be no room for doubt or dispute that any items are beyond fair wear and tear or that have been deliberately caused will be the responsibility of the tenant.
And this is exactly where the importance of detailed ingoing and outgoing inspection reports will become especially evident, and once again prove the value of working with an experienced and thorough managing agent.