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Turnkey Real Estate Investing

4 min read

How Well Do You Know These 4 Core Resident Maintenance Responsibilities?

Wed, Jun 22, 2016

All of us are well-versed in what property management is designed to do for our residents and our investment properties. When we consider property maintenance, we usually think of those responsibilities: fixing or replacing broken appliances, changing locks and performing major repairs.

At the most basic, core level, owners and managers are required to provide a habitable space for residents. What this means can vary based on local law, but these standards always involve things like safety, health, and cleanliness. Some tasks, however, don’t necessarily always fall to property management. Your residents have responsibilities, too.

While they may not be vital to the habitability of the property, there are things residents have to do. Sometimes those lines can get blurry and cause contention: so let us clarify.

Remember that these guidelines are typical and may vary under different legal regulations.

4 Core Resident Maintenance Responsibilities...

Cleanliness & Sanitation

At the top of the list of a resident’s maintenance responsibilities is simply keeping things clean. residents are expected to take out the trash and keep the property neat. That means regular housework: cleaning toilets and counter tops, dusting, mopping, vacuuming, and so on. While some mess can be understandable, residents can’t neglect these basic tasks. Sometimes, they may even be required to take care of the lawn (including cleaning gutters!), though some management companies may offer to do it for an additional fee to the resident. The same goes for small, regular tasks like changing air filters and light bulbs.

When properties aren’t kept clean, it can be a breeding ground for mold and infestations of bugs and vermin. Keep an eye out for warning signs of this kind of neglect: it can cost owners a lot to fix in the long run.

Reporting Issues in a Timely Manner

residents may not be responsible for fixing major property issues, but they’re responsible for reporting them as soon as possible. If they don’t mention a problem (leaking pipes, for instance) to the manager, they may be held liable for additional damages that wouldn’t have happened had the issue been reported and rectified earlier.

It’s vital for the health and condition of your investment property that residents are actively encouraged to communicate with the property management when an issue arises. While it may be inconvenient at times, leaving a problem unaddressed is far more damaging.

Covering Personal Errors & Accidents

We know that residents aren’t responsible for covering regular wear and tear. Things get damaged and worn just by virtue of being used: whether that’s the carpet or appliances. Still, that doesn’t mean that you’ll always have to foot the bill. residents who cause damages with carelessness are responsible for fixing the damages. That could be anything from cleaning the carpet after a wine spill to replacing a broken window.

Using the Property Properly

We all want and expect residents to use the property as it was intended and without illegal activity: but we know that that (unfortunately) isn’t always the case. If a resident uses a room, fixture, or appliance in any way that is not within its intended use and it is damaged or broken as a result, they are absolutely liable for those damages.

Tips for Owners & Property Managers

  • Respond Quickly. If you want your residents to be responsive and alert you when there are issues, then as a management company or simply as a landlord, you must respond quickly.  Be attentive to your residents' needs and make sure they know that when you call you will respond.  This will encourage them to keep you informed of issues and needs.  While it is still perfectly acceptable to say 'no' to some issues and requests, the simple fact that you have responded and responded quickly can go a long way in making sure that your residents take care of your property and alert you when there are issues.
  • Be Diligent with Property Repairs. residents aren’t very incentivized to care for a property if you’re not doing it, either. When a problem is reported, the ball is in your court to see that it gets fixed in a property and timely manner. A lack of property repairs can impact habitability standards and land you in legal hot water—not to mention the potential to further damage your property.
  • Be Clear in Your Contract. Do your renters know what you expect in terms of resident maintenance responsibilities? In your lease agreement, ensure that these requirements are clearly defined, particularly when it comes to defining regular wear and tear and situations in which residents will be held responsible for damages.

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image credit: Len Matthews

Chris Clothier
Written by Chris Clothier

Entrepreneur, writer, speaker, ultra-endurance athlete, husband & father of five beautiful children. Chris puts these natural talents on display every day. As a partner at REI Nation, Chris addresses small and large audiences of real estate investors and business professionals nationwide several times each year. Chris is also an active writer, weekly publishing real estate, leadership, and endurance training articles.