Maintenance Responsibilities – Who Takes the Blame?

Property Management Blog

Many have this idea that the rental property is the sole responsibility of the landlord. However, this isn't true. The rental property is as much responsibility of the tenant as it is of the landlord. Both of these parties are responsible for the well-being of the rental property. The landlord is responsible for apparent reasons as he has invested in the property, and the tenant is responsible because he is living in the property. So if something happens to the property, both the landlord and the tenant will be affected by it.

However, the landlord is indeed responsible for making the place habitable and safe for the tenant. On the other hand, the tenant is also responsible for keeping the place in order and as it was handed to him by the landlord. Such duties and responsibilities should be allocated from the start so that there is no confusion should any confusion arises.

For example, natural wear and tear isn't the responsibility of the tenant, but the wear and tear done by the pets of the tenant is his responsibility. Any accident that occurs while moving in and out of the property is also the tenant's responsibility.

Similarly, neglect is also termed as wear and tear that the tenant is responsible for. A leaking pipe that was ignored by the tenant comes under neglect. Here's what the tenant is responsible for:

Notifying about the Repairs:

Yes, the tenants aren't responsible for the repairs, but they are responsible for letting the landlord know that the repairs are due. Every time anything needs repairing, or servicing the tenant is obliged to let the landlord know, or the minor issue can turn into a big one with negligence. Also, the landlord has all the right to deduct the amount from the security deposit of the tenant in case of negligence. No tenant is allowed to do the repairs on his own; he or she is obliged to let the landlord know unless stated otherwise in the lease agreement.


Many houses and rental properties come with amenities such as appliances and smart devices. These are installed to make the life of the tenant easy. For example, smart lights, oven, microwave, dryers and washers are all installed to make the tenant happy. As per the lease agreement, these appliances are the responsibility of the tenant. Once in the house, the tenant is required to use these with care, and any damage to such devices is the responsibility of the tenant.

Again, negligence and carelessness that result in damage are the tenant's responsibility, and he or she is responsible for reimbursing the expenses to the landlord. These arrangements should be addressed in the lease so that there is no confusion when the time comes.

Smoke Alarm:

All alarms like smoke detectors are important and are regarded as crucial requirements to make the rental habitable; however, despite their importance, these are neglected when it comes to adding clauses in the rental agreement. Tenants are responsible for maintaining the alarm systems as well as the smoke detectors. Many of these alarms don't need much maintenance, but you don't need to change the batteries if there are any and when they expire. Apart from that, the tenant also needs to be mindful of false alarms and also let the landlord know if there any such false alarms.

Snow Removal And Winter Maintenance:

There is a huge grey area when it comes to snow removal. To avoid that grey area, the clause should be mentioned in the lease. As per the law, the tenant isn't responsible for snow removal; this comes under the maintenance issues that the landlord looks after. However, the snow around the property can harm the general public that walks by; hence the tenants end up paying fines for that. To avoid such complications, tenants and landlords should have better communication and should solve this matter before it arises.

Trash removal:

Just like snow removal, the effect of trash removal also affects both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord has to maintain the well-being of the property, whereas the tenant is living in the property; hence the trash and its smell will make the place inhabitable. Most states have trash disposal available for a nominal and fixed-rate, and most landlords take care of it and mention that in the listing as well. These are the basic things that make your rental attractive; hence most landlords make sure these bits are covered before the rental is up for rent.

Pest Control:

Before the tenant moves in, pest control is the responsibility of the landlord, but after the tenant settles in, it's the responsibility of the tenant to keep the place free from pest. Pests are encouraged through unhygienic conditions as well as neglect, and once the tenant takes hold of the rental, it's his responsibility to keep it squeaky clean.

There is again a grey area when it comes to pest control. If the rental has structural problems, the outbreak can still happen even when the tenant is extra hygienic. In such a case, the landlord will be responsible for bearing the pest control expense causes.


Mold like pest is again a tricky area. It's pretty hard to identify the problem as well as who started the mold issue. Mold is encouraged through moisture, and if the rental has structural issues, the mold is the landlord's responsibility. Similarly, if the mold is aggravated by the improper ventilation or piles of wet laundry, it's the tenant's responsibility. In any case, mold is a big no as it comes under hazardous living.

Bottom Line:

The basic maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord; however, many areas don't come under the charge of the landlord. For such areas, it's better to have clauses mentioned in the lease agreement. The landlord, as well as the tenant, can both agree on these clauses and keep the communication channel open in case of any incident.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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