If you want to rent a property, you should expect to build a relationship with the landlord and learn what are his/her rights and responsibilities, as well as yours. Sometimes you get along easily, but it can also take some time.
To do it correctly, you will have to be aware of things like: personal references, property conditions, agreements, etc. Also, you can do the whole process by yourself or you can hire a real estate agent for support.
In any case, for your convenience, here we’ve collected the 5 main responsibilities of a landlord that everyone should know in advance. Keep reading and be ready!
Understanding the Concepts
In real estate terminology, a landlord is someone who rents a property (apartment, house, building, store, etc.) or land. He is also the owner and allows someone else to be in his space by paying a fee.
On the other hand, a tenant is a person who pays a fee to use the property. The landlord will still be the legal owner, but the tenant will be the only one living or using the space.
We call property to the land itself. It can be a store, house, apartment, building, storage, etc.
When a landlord and a tenant want to make a deal for the property, they decide on a specific amount to be paid; this is called ‘rent.’ Generally, the payments are monthly, but sometimes you can agree to quarterly or annual payments.
Also, most of the time you have to pay a deposit as a pledge for a contract or to ensure a compensation for damages. This is usually called ‘Security Deposit’ or ‘Prepaid Rent.’
Lease or Rental Agreement
This is the official contract where you will see all the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and yourself. It is one of the most important things about renting a property since, in case of a problem or misunderstanding, you will know which is the right thing to do.
This lease should be provided by the landlord, but you can always read it in advance and check it with a lawyer or someone who knows about this kind of documents.
Things You Should Do Before Closing the Deal
Check Their Background
Even if you find a landlord who seems pretty trustworthy and nice, you should always check his background. You can do this by searching online or even asking for references in the neighborhood.
Also, if you have the possibility, check the rental history of the property itself. This can be done directly with the landlord, or even with a Real Estate company.
Compare the Price to Other Similar Properties
Do not settle for the first option! If you really liked the property, check the price of another similar to that one. Sometimes you can find yourself with an overpriced deal that is not that worthy.
Visit the Property
Always remember to visit the property in advance. If it is possible, take pictures of what you see or write down everything. This way, you can make sure of what the landlord is offering you and have proof of the conditions in which you received the property (which is really important and you will see why in the next section).
5 Responsibilities of the Landlord
While you have many responsibilities, here are the 5 key ones to know…
1. Deliver the Property in Good Condition
One of the main responsibilities of the landlord is to provide a safe and clean property to new tenants. This means cleaning, repairing, and installing furniture or other stuff (if that is included in the lease).
If the property needs some mild repairs that will be in charge of the landlord, but that do not affect the move of the tenant, it should be mentioned in the agreement to avoid misunderstandings.
However, if the property already has an old tenant that is moving out, he is responsible for leaving the space in the same condition that he received it.
2. Repair Damages
Normally, any property damage that has occurred due to lack of maintenance or material collapse is at the expense of the landlord. If the damage is done by the tenant, it is his responsibility to repair them, especially if they were everyday accidents.
In some cases, the landlord may not repair some things but, in return, he can reduce the cost of the rent. This way, you will pay less for rent and that money can be used to repair what is needed.
However, it is important that at the time of writing the agreement, both define the limits and responsibilities according to the type of damage.
3. Maintain the Property
In addition to repairing damage, certain maintenance costs must be taken care of by the landlord, such as:
- Maintenance of common and recreational areas.
- Paint the external walls.
- Provide trash receptacles.
- Ensure a good service of electricity, water, gas, internet, etc. (the costs of these services can be paid in full by the landlord, but can also be divided with the tenant. However, if the latter decides to acquire services with another company, he will have to pay for them).
- Security circuits or private security (if applicable).
- Copies of the keys.
4. Pay for a Hotel Room for a Tenant
Although it seems strange, this is one of the doubts that many tenants have.
For example, if move-in day arrives and (for an external reason) the property is not ready yet for habitation, the tenant (and family, if applicable) will need to stay at a hotel in the meantime. Another common situation is when the tenant already lives or uses the property but there is an unexpected situation that warrants leaving it; in this case, he may also have to stay in a hotel.
Whatever the case, the landlord is not legally obliged to pay for these expenses. However, it is possible that he can do it; there are some exceptions and things to be aware of. For this, we recommend you read this article that contains more details.
As we mentioned earlier, the landlord has the responsibility (and the right) to request a security deposit; and in case of acceptance, the tenant must pay it.
This is used for 3 things:
- Secure the rental of the property so the landlord does not offer it to other people.
- Repair damages at the time of handing over the property.
- Cover the tenant’s rent in case he cannot make a payment on time.
It is important to note that in terms of the lease, damage repair, maintenance, and especially the deposit, each state and locality has its own laws. This means that you must carry out specific research according to where you live (or hire an advisor o real estate agent) to avoid legal problems and finally close the deal.