5 Basic Tenant Responsibilities

The policies regarding rentals vary depending on your state and local laws, as well as the terms you put in your lease. However, there are some general expectations for tenancy that apply in most situations.

1. Making amends for accidents

Accidents happen, and they’re hard to predict. While a landlord is expected to respond to maintenance requests, like when the dishwasher breaks or the air conditioner is not working, renters should handle certain accidents. For instance, if a pet caused some damage to the backyard or glass of wine was spilled on the carpet, then the tenant should expect to take care of the issue.

2. Paying rent

Paying rent is part of the rental agreement, so there should be a general understanding that a tenant pays a pre-determined amount of rent each month in exchange for occupying a property. The timeline for making rent payments, and the penalty for not abiding by them, should be clearly outlined in the lease to avoid confusion.

3. Telling the landlord about issues

This is especially important when the issue compromises the safety of occupants or can cause lasting damage. Tenants shouldn’t wait to tell a property manager about a pressing issue, like flooding in the basement.

If you think that your renters are avoiding you, put yourself in their shoes to see if there’s a reason why. Do you charge them a fee to come out and assess the problem? Could they be concerned that they’ll be on the hook for costs associated with repairs that were unavoidable? Keep the lines of communication open and make sure your policies regarding maintenance are reasonable so that the renter won’t hesitate you to alert you as soon as there’s an issue.

4. Maintaining sanitation cleanliness

A clean and sanitary dwelling is a right for your tenant, and a responsibility for them to maintain. A home does not have to be spotless, but it should be clean enough to not cause issues. Uneaten food scraps that are not properly disposed of can create a pest problem, and spills can lead to stains.

While this may seem like a completely subjective standard, there are indicators that a place is not meeting standards of cleanliness. If the property receives a citation from the city about piles of garbage in the alley, for instance, then this is definitely a sign of an occupant neglecting this responsibility.

5. Using the property as it was intended

There’s an expectation that occupants will not conduct illegal activities out of your property. This includes activities that the property is not zoned for. This can apply to anything from extra occupants to exotic animals. Landlords and property managers should definitely check with local laws.

Remember, a thorough screening process that includes a criminal background check could save you some headache down the road.

Landlords and tenants both have rights…and responsibilities. If you’re not sure what they are, be sure to know your local laws and communicate your expectations clearly.

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