Rental Properties – What Damages Are the Landlord’s Responsibility?

property-landlord-responsibilityWhether you are a tenant or own a rental property, the issue of damages and whose responsibility they are is likely to affect you at some point.

From water damage to faulty electrical work and many more maintenance issues, damages to a rental property often become points of argument between tenants and their landlords, resulting in disagreements and even legal action. Fortunately, by ensuring that both landlord and tenant understand their responsibilities and carry them out, these unpleasant situations are easily avoidable. Here is a quick guide for tenants and landlords alike:

Understanding Your Lease Agreement

It’s essential that both the tenant and landlord read and agree to the lease document, and that it is signed before the tenant takes occupancy. Both parties should take note of their responsibilities as far as maintenance is concerned, since once the lease is signed they will have to abide by it.

  • In general, most leases specify that the tenant is liable for the inside of the property while the landlord undertakes to maintain the outside. However, before a tenant moves in, he or she should inspect the property and bring any maintenance issues to the landlord’s attention.
  • If the property is not in a reasonable condition, the tenant can request that the landlord fix any maintenance issues before the lease period begins. If the landlord fails to repair the property and the tenant moves in, the tenant can’t be held responsible for any maintenance issues that existed before he or she moves in.
  • Many leases state that the landlord will be liable to fix or repair the geyser during the period of the lease, while the tenant takes responsibility for all other repairs on the inside of the property. If you are a landlord, you should ensure that you have insurance which will pay for the replacement of a geyser if necessary.

Ensuring Good Landlord-Tenant Relations

Once both tenant and landlord have read and understood the lease agreement, they should recognise that a well-maintained property will benefit both of them equally. For the tenant, keeping the property in good condition will ensure a pleasant stay during the lease period, while the landlord will benefit from having a property in good condition that will gain in value and can be sold if necessary.

If maintenance issues do arise, tenants and landlords should discuss these issues – often through a letting agent – and negotiate at first if one of the parties is unhappy. As a last resort, tenants and landlords both have the right to approach the Rental Housing Tribunal to mediate and help them find a solution to their disagreement.

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