Have you been on either side of a Landlord/Tenant dispute?
Reading through blogs, I stumbled across one about a kitchen sink nightmare. Long story short, a small clogged drain grew worse and worse due, in large part, to the tenants attempting to resolve the issue themselves. They tried everything under the sun (and the kitchen sink) to no avail until they, inevitably, were forced to notify their Landlords to have the issue resolved.
It got me thinking though, what would I have done? If I was living in an apartment I would have easily called the office had spoken my piece until I was guaranteed a maintenance man would fix it for me PRONTO. But, as a tenant in a home, I tend to let a lot more things slide. In fact, months go by without me even speaking to my landlord. In the 3+ years I’ve lived in their house I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve requested their assistance for an issue in the home, and they were always major issues. I feel that as the person living in the home, it’s only right that I keep the house up to par.
But have I been doling out TOO much cash, maintaining a home that doesn’t even belong to me?
Well, the obvious answer to that is a resounding yes BUT this isn’t an article about the benefits of homeownership vs. renting. I simply wanted to know what things a tenant is responsible for, and what things does the property’s owner usually handle. And so the investigation began.
Here’s what I found:
It didn’t take much research to think of the common sense scenarios, in which a call to the property owner would be the only logical action to take. I’m talking roofs caving in, air conditioners breaking in the middle of the summer and other major structural issues/defects and equipment failure. These are situations that you would, with out a doubt, call your landlord. If you were planning on making repairs like this, you’d probably already own your own home.
What happens when a knob on the faucet breaks, or a toilet seat cover? While in the end, your lease trumps all…. It is normally the common courtesy of your landlord to replace things like this that occur due to normal wear and tear. Take note however, of the phrase “normal wear and tear”. This can be interpreted differently by different parties, and if your landlord feels that these malfunctions were caused by your carelessness or neglect, that would leave you responsible to fix the damages.
As always, you should first review your lease to see who should handle lawn care. If your lawn is very large, or you foresee areas that would be difficult for you to maintain, you should negotiate this in your lease. There are cases when landlords can negotiate the price of yard upkeep into the rent you pay. I found that commonly, however, the tenant handles the regular routine upkeep of the yard. Either way, it’s important to check your lease. In some cases, not keeping the landscape up can result in fines or even eviction for the tenant.
To sum it all up, every lease is different and the terms should be carefully negotiated and agreed to by both the tenant and the landlord, prior to the tenant taking possession of the property. It is important to carefully read and understand your lease before signing. This can eliminate issues and disagreements between you and your landlord in the future.
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