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Landlord Obligation to Maintain Premises

What Does Maintaining Premises Mean Under Landlord-Tenant Law?

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One important responsibility for landlords under landlord-tenant law is to maintain the premises. The exact obligations may differ slightly on a state by state basis, but there are some general responsibilities all landlords have to their tenants. Since these obligations are part of a state’s landlord-tenant law, they do not have to be explicitly spelled out in a lease agreement to be valid.

Please remember that these obligations may or may not apply in your state. You must check your local landlord-tenant law to determine the exact responsibilities landlords in your area have to their tenants.

Maintaining the Premises Involves:

  • Adhering to Building Codes
  • Performing Repairs
  • Maintaining Common Areas
  • Keeping Vital Services Functioning
  • Providing Proper Trash Receptacles
  • Supplying Running Water
  • Building Codes

    Landlords are responsible for protecting the safety of their tenants. One way to do so is by making sure the property complies with all local building and safety codes. Building and safety codes can regulate:

    • Lead Based Paint for Properties Built Before 1978.
    • Toxic Mold
    • Asbestos
    • Maximum Number of People Per Unit
    • Smoke Detectors
    • Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    • Adequate Lighting in Common Areas
    • Safety Guards on Windows
    • Use of Fire Retardant Paint
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical Wiring
    • Structural Integrity of the Building
  • Repair

    A landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is in habitable condition. This involves making all repairs and doing whatever else is “reasonably” necessary to keep the property in good condition. For example, fixing a roof leak would be a “reasonably” necessary repair. However , replacing the entire roof because of one small leak would not be reasonable or necessary.

  • Maintain Common Areas

    Under landlord-tenant law, a landlord is responsible for maintaining all common areas of the building. This involves making sure they are:

    • Safe- Keeping the area safe would involve making sure it has adequate lighting and that these lighting fixture are in working condition or have working light bulbs. It also means keeping the area free from hazards that could cause injury, such as faulty banisters or unsafe stairs.

    • Clean- The responsibility to keep common areas clean often only applies to properties that have more than one unit. The area does not have to be immaculate, but it does need to be consistently free from trash and other debris.
  • Keep Electricity, Plumbing, Etc. Functioning

    A landlord is responsible for ensuring that all vital processes are in functioning order. This includes, but is not limited to:

    • Plumbing
    • Electricity
    • Gas
    • Central Air Conditioning (If Applicable)
    • Heat
    • Appliances that Have Been Supplied by the Landlord
    • Elevators (If Applicable)

    This requirement is not for the landlord to actually supply the utility to the tenant. It is just to make sure the systems to supply them are in good and functioning order. Whether the utilities, such as heat and electricity, are included in the price of the rental and thus the responsibility of the landlord, is a separate issue that should be spelled out in the lease agreement.

  • Provide Trash Receptacles

    Landlords are required to provide the appropriate garbage cans or recycling bins for debris. These bins should be equipped for storing the trash until it is time for removal. The landlord is also responsible for the removal of this trash, whether it be taking it out him or herself or arranging for someone else to do so.

  • Supply Running Water

    Under the landlord-tenant act, a landlord is responsible for providing the tenant with running water. The landlord is also responsible for providing adequate heat in the cold months, air conditioning in the warm months (if the unit has central air conditioning) and hot water. Units in which these utilities are directly installed in and can only be directly controlled by the tenant and are connected directly to a public utility are exempt from this rule.

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