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Landlord's Responsibilities to Their Property

From Paying Taxes to Performing Repairs

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Signing a Contract
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One of a landlord’s main responsibilities is to their property. This includes adhering to safety codes, paying all bills related to the property, maintaining insurance and performing necessary repairs and maintenance.

Responsibility to Adhere to Safety Codes

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to adhere to all local, state and federal safety codes for your property. You may learn some of these codes the hard way if you have a property inspection and your property fails. These codes may vary greatly depending on the state, and even the town, that your property is located in. Some examples of safety codes are:

  • You must know how many smoke detectors are required per apartment/floor and whether they must be hard wired.

  • Similarly, you must know how many carbon monoxide detectors are required.

  • You need to be educated about lead paint safety regulations. You must know how to remedy lead paint hazards according to the EPA’s guidelines, and also be licensed to do so or hire a licensed professional.

  • You must know how to remedy mold in your property, especially toxic mold. The EPA has some tips on how to handle mold.

  • You need to know the requirements for banisters and proper lighting in stairwells.

  • You should know if there is a maximum number of people per bedroom or a maximum of "X" amount of people per "X" amount of square feet.

  • Whether you must use fire retardant paint in areas such as stairwells.

  • If you must install safety guards on second floor windows.

  • Understand weather related laws. In areas where snow fall is likely, many cities have safety codes requiring walkways to be salted and shoveled within a certain amount of time by the end of a snow storm, such as two hours after the snowfall has ended.

Maintain the Proper Insurance

As a landlord, it is in your best interest to maintain the correct amount of insurance on your property. If you have a mortgage on the property, your lender will often require you to obtain certain types of insurance. This is to protect them in case of damage to your property, such as from fires, floods, or even a ‘slip and fall’ claim.

First, you must check your homeowners insurance policy. Many homeowners insurance policies do not cover renting. If not, you need, at the very least, to obtain basic landlord property insurance, which is insurance for the physical structure you rent out.

Basic insurance plus contents will cover your possessions in the building, such as tools or appliances. It will not cover the tenants’ possessions. Tenants will need to obtain separate renters insurance to cover their belongings and liability.

Other types of insurance to consider are water coverage, fire coverage, flood coverage, coverage from natural disasters, insurance to cover lawsuits and legal fees and even insurance to cover lost rental income due to situations like fires or natural disasters.

In addition, you may want to consider getting an umbrella insurance policy, which is an extra liability coverage. It can protect you from claims that may not be covered by your other liability insurance such as from libel, slander or lawsuits. It can also protect you when you have reached your coverage limit from your other insurance policies.

Pay Mortgage

If you have taken out a mortgage on your property or a private loan to in order to buy your property, you are responsible for paying this loan back according to the set payment schedule agreed upon. If a mortgage payment is more than 30 days late, it will negatively impact your credit score. If you continually miss mortgage payments, you may face foreclosure.

Responsibility to Pay Taxes

Whether you are an owner occupant of the property you are renting out or have a stand alone rental property, you are responsible for paying property taxes to the government. You will also have to pay taxes on the income you receive from collecting rent. However, as a landlord or property owner, there are numerous tax deductions you can take advantage of. These deductions include interest on mortgage payments or credit cards used for the property, depreciation, insurance premiums, repairs and even property taxes.

Pay Utilities

Often, a tenant is responsible for paying their own utilities, such is the case with most condos and single family homes. However, if you are a landlord who is responsible for paying the utilities for your property, whether it be one utility or all, you must make sure you do so. Failure to pay the utility bill means your tenants won’t have water, heat or electricity. This could be considered a violation of the lease as you are not providing essential services that you have agreed to provide and you could face legal action.

Landlords Must Perform Property Maintenance

As a landlord, you have a responsibility to perform regular maintenance on your property. This includes preventative maintenance such as exterminating regularly and checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. It also includes weekly maintenance such as sweeping all common areas, cleaning out rain gutters, picking up trash and putting out garbage and recycling according to your town's collection schedule.

Perform Repairs

You must not only perform preventative maintenance, but you must also perform repairs on your property. This includes small repairs such as fixing doors coming off of their hinges or unclogging a shower drain. It also includes large repairs such as replacing a roof or rewiring electric. Of course, if you are not skilled in areas such as plumbing or electric, it is best to hire a licensed professional who will make sure the work is done properly and according to code.

Next: Landlord's Responsibilities to Themselves
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