Tenant & Landlord Responsibilities
Benjamin Franklin said there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Some might say there’s a third certainty though… that of responsibility. It’s a state of life we can’t escape. We may try to at one point or another, but responsibility is patient. Eventually it comes back around and nabs us. That’s why it’s best to face your responsibilities head on, instead of shirking them or putting them off. Benjamin Franklin also offered some pithy wisdom about guests and fish—something that one might also say about responsibility. The longer you try to avoid doing something, the greater chance it has of becoming a larger problem.
This concept is something with which landlords are all too familiar. One often hears stories of irresponsible landlords who try to avoid basic responsibilities. Stories of delayed repair or maintenance leading to larger—sometimes costly damages—are all too common. Landlords have a responsibility to care for their tenants.
Tenants aren’t immune from responsibility either, though. A tenant might shirk their own responsibilities, thinking that all will be fine. A dog chewing through a door or wall isn’t damaging the tenant’s property. That behavior isn’t conducive to a healthy renting environment, however, which is something that may affect the tenant later.
Both tenants and landlords have responsibilities that require attention. In both instances, a timely and courteous reaction, a “taking on” of responsibility, are duties each party has to the other. Some tenant and landlord responsibilities are simple and easily addressed. Whereas others are more involved and may take a larger effort to resolve. In either event, the outcome is the same. A responsible tenant or landlord must work together and understand their duties.
Landlord Responsibility 1: Complying with Anti-Discrimination Efforts
The US government instituted the Fair Housing Act in 1968. This legal decree prohibited landlords from discriminating against people on the basis of:
- National origin
- Familial status
Later on, this act would also include sexual orientation as a protected class as well.
Because of the Fair Housing Act, landlords must comply with the law and not discriminate against a potential tenant that may fall into one or more of these classes. Landlords must ensure they do not discriminate in any advertisements for property rentals, tenant interview questions, and tenant relations. Failure to comply with this edict could result in costly lawsuits, potentially affecting their business. This is just one responsibility landlords must follow, but it’s an important one.
Landlord Responsibility 2: Ensure Tenants Know the Area
Depending on the rental market in your area, tenants may feel they have to sign immediately to secure a place. A landlord might assume tenants do responsible research on the property and its surroundings, but that’s not always a safe bet. High rent and low vacancy can have some tenants leaping to sign the dotted line of a new lease if the space and rents are decent.
A landlord is responsible for the safety and well-being of potential renters. That means a good landlord should be honest and provide accurate information. A landlord has a responsibility to know the neighbor and make sure the tenant will be both safe and comfortable. The landlord doesn’t need to patrol the area, but simple things like what the neighbors and neighborhood are like are good to know. Landlords should make an effort to know what the surrounding areas are like and how far away essential places—like grocery stores, gas stations, and schools—are from the tenants’ new home. Prospective tenants may not be aware or even know where to start. A responsible landlord doing some of that initial preparation can be a huge benefit. Plus, this effort can help to strengthen the relationship between the landlord and the tenants.
Landlord Responsibility 3: Ensure the Property is Habitable
Under Colorado state law any property being rented out must meet the conditions of a habitable property. This means the property must not interfere or inhibit the tenants’ life, health, or safety. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Plumbing issues
- Animal infestation
- Building Codes
This type of law and its protections vary from state to state, but regardless of the legal status, a landlord must ensure a property is in good physical condition. As a provider, the landlord has a responsibility to provide a safe, habitable environment for their tenants.
Tenant Responsibilities 1: Follow the Conditions of Your Lease
When tenants decide to rent a space from a property owner they must sign a lease or other document agreeing to terms provided by the landlord. These terms are fairly consistent from one lease to another. Common details include paying rent on a certain date or keeping the space clean and tidy. Tenants must abide by these conditions if they want to continue living in the property, but also to maintain a healthy, working relationship between them and the landlord. Nothing is worse than not paying rent on time over and over again and expecting a landlord to give you a good reference when you decide to move someplace else.
By following the conditions of a lease you’ll not only have a positive relationship with your landlord—something that can greatly benefit you in the long run—but also avoid any legal issues that might arise. Speaking of lease conditions however…
Tenant Responsibilities 2: Read the Lease
Most of the time leases are very mundane and contain the rules and verbiage you’d expect from a property owner. Items such as paying rent on time, prohibitions on drugs, or expectations to keep the space clean are common.
A landlord may include items on a lease, however, that may be unacceptable, irresponsible, or otherwise immoral. Examples of this could include excessive extra costs or late fees for the tenant, mandatory insurance charges that may be the landlord’s responsibility (not yours), or a lack of provisions when it comes to providing a habitable living space.
As the prospective tenant it is your responsibility to read over the lease and ask questions about any items that don’t make sense within the agreement. Doing so may prevent you from having a terrible living experience with a landlord who may be neglecting their responsibilities.
Responsibilities are never something that should be shrugged off. No matter what side of the lease agreement you’re on you have an obligation to to fulfill the responsibilities that are bestowed upon you. Whether a tenant or a landlord, take the necessary steps to be a responsible tenant or landlord. Have questions about your responsibilities as a tenant or a landlord? Contact Henderson today.