What Are A Landlord's Responsibilities?

What are a landlord's responsibilities? Landlord responsibilities include ensuring property maintenance standards and codes as well as reasonable safety and security for the tenant. Gary Knippa is the owner...

Gary Knippa is the owner of Knippa Properties in Austin, TX and has worked in the real estate market for over 30 years. He has worked with his fair share of rentals, and he says that a landlord's primary responsibility is to provide a residence that is livable, meaning it is suitable to live in. "Some common requirements are that the landlord has certain obligations of maintaining the property in good livable condition, particularly regarding safety issues and security issues...There are some habitability standards that a landlord must maintain for a tenant," he explains.

One critical element to having a livable rental is insuring that the unit is clean and sanitary. The rental should be weather and waterproof, have adequate plumbing, be free from infestations of rodents, bugs and other pests and provide trash cans and garbage pick-up for their its residents. Another aspect of making sure the property is livable is to stay current on any needed repairs and see to it that all maintenance issues are taken care of quickly.

The landlord also has a responsibility to be compliant with all laws, codes, regulations or ordinances governing the repair, renovation, operation or maintenance of the property. If they are found to not be in compliance, it is the landlord's responsibility to take whatever actions necessary to get compliant immediately. If the landlord or property manger contracts out its repair work to outside companies, it is their responsibility to oversee the company to make sure the workmanship is proper and that the repairs or exterminations are completed in a timely manner.

There is also a responsibility to ensure that the residence is a safe place to live in. The landlord is required to provide sufficient locks and keys (this includes re-keying and/or changing the locks when a new tenant moves in), make sure all structural components of the unit and common areas are in good condition, having an electrical system in good working order, and maintaining functional windows and doors. "You [also] have to have smoke detectors in good working order and all windows and doors must have good locks," Knippa says. Landlords are also required to maintain the plumbing, HVAC and appliances that are provided by the landlord, such as refrigerators, radiators, and stoves. If the property was built a long time ago, the landlord must provide the tenant(s) with the EPA brochure that informs them about the hazards of lead-based paint, along with a disclosure stating that the landlord is aware that lead-based paint may have been used in the apartment.

Landlords must also remember that they have a duty to be fair in their dealings with their tenants. They are required to abide by the landlord-tenant laws in their state and cannot engage in such practices as harassment, unlawful eviction or wrongfully withholding someone's refunded security deposit. They also have a legal obligation to follow the Fair Housing Act, which forbids a landlord from discriminating against a tenant or prospective tenant because of race, age, gender, religion, handicap or marital/familial status.

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