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Landlord Tenant Law

A Landlord's Responsibility to Their Tenants

Landlords have various responsibilities to their tenants. These responsibilities can dramatically differ depending on the law from state to state. For the most part, however, landlords will be held liable for safety concerns. Undoubtedly, tenants will also have certain expectations from landlords so long as they pay their rent each month. The following are some of the most general responsibilities a landlord has to his or her tenant.

A Landlord’s Responsibility to Maintain a Safe Location

Generally, tenants expect to live in a safe location. Within reason, landlords have a responsibility to provide a safe and secure home for their tenants. There are several fundamental necessities a landlord will need to provide in order to allow tenants to feel safe within their housing apartment. This includes making sure that:

  • All doors lock properly,
  • All windows close and lock properly, and
  • Front doors have a deadbolt lock.

With the majority of these safety liabilities landlords also have the responsibility of security and honesty. In many regions, landlords will have an extra key to a tenant’s apartment. When this rule applies, it will generally be consistent for every tenant throughout the apartment complex. While many landlords have a copy of a tenant’s apartment key, it is their responsibility to ensure that no one else is in possession of a tenant’s apartment key. Tenants are responsible for changing the locks to a tenant’s apartment prior to having the tenant moving in. When allowing realtors showcase the dwelling, it is recommended that landlords use generic locks and ultimately replace these locks prior to having a new resident move in.

When a person is occupying an apartment, there will often be repairs that will need to be made inside his or her apartment. It is often a landlord’s responsibility to fix the repair claims and will therefore call onto specialized professionals to solve the issue(s). Landlords have the responsibility to not allow an unsupervised handyman inside an occupied apartment as this has the potential to lead to claims of burglary.

A Safe Environment Inside and Outside The Apartment

Depending on the state or region, many landlords will have the responsibility of following all safety codes applicable. This can include installing carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, or other similar fire alarms.

A tenant should be able to expect a sense of safety outside his or her personal residence as well. Landlords have the responsibility to maintain the outdoor area of the apartment complex safe as well. This means that landlords are expected to make sure that most, if not all, outdoor areas are well lit. Further, landlords have to be sure that the area is free from hazards that include, but are not limited to:

  • Unstable handrails,
  • Unlit areas,
  • Broken stairs, and
  • Faulty gates

If the property includes multi-unit apartments, landlords have the responsibility to ensure that all tenants feel safe with all other tenants in the building as well. Landlords have the responsibility to screen and run background checks on all of their tenants to ensure that they do not have a criminal background. The most common criminal offenses to check for are those of violent nature, sexual abuse, and robbery. If an applicant has a criminal history, many landlords will allow the use of prior landlord recommendations in order to allow the applicant reside in the dwelling.

The Landlord’s Responsibility to Maintain a Quiet Location

Many tenants have a reasonable expectation to have their residence area quiet. While the limitations on this will vary by region, a landlord has the responsibility to help maintain a generally quiet environment. By screening applicants, landlords can ensure that tenants will maintain a level of respect among one another. Further, establishing a policy for the property in regard to noise control can also help maintain a peaceful environment. A good policy can include restrictions on the following:

  • Loud music,
  • Running,
  • Loud television sets, or
  • Noises after 10:00 p.m.

The Landlord’s Responsibility to Maintain a Clean Location

Although there is an expectation to maintain a clean dwelling, landlords are not responsible for doing the personal chores of their tenants. Landlords are, however, responsible for keeping common areas clean and well-functioning.

This can include keeping yards and walkways free of garbage or hazardous liquids. Further, in the event that a tenant has a bug or rodent problem, landlords have the responsibility to call professional assistance to help rid of the issue. Landlords should be mindful of solving the issue(s) themselves as this can implicate additional liabilities for attempting to do so.

A Responsibility to Respond to Claims Promptly

Landlords have a duty to respond to a tenant’s repair claim in a reasonable amount of time. Priority should be given to the claims that are severe and require urgency. While many claims will be minor, they should nonetheless be taken care of within a few days.

Promptly responding to repair claims will not only be beneficial to the tenant, it will also be beneficial for the dwelling. Not fixing a specific issue can quickly have other ramifications as well.

To learn more about your rights as a landlord or a tenant, talk to an attorney with real estate experience. He or she can help you understand more about the options available for your specific scenario.

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