When you rent a home, there are numerous maintenance and administrative tasks that a landlord must cover on your behalf. Tenant protection laws ensure that the home or building is safe and structurally sound, including the routine upkeep and inspections that homeowners are normally responsible for doing.
While not all types of maintenance are legally required, a landlord who refuses or fails to do certain types of upkeep to keep a home safe may violate the law.
What is a landlord responsible for?
The following are four important maintenance issues that landlords are required to address, usually within at least 48 hours, but sometimes sooner:
- Structural soundness. The walls, floors, and ceilings in a house or building must be in good shape, and any needed repairs must be done promptly, as structural defects can impact the safety of the tenants.
- Plumbing problems. Burst pipes, pipes needing cleaning or replacement, and backed-up sewage (such as tree roots clogging the mainline) are plumbing issues a landlord is responsible for. Usually, landlords must address these within 24 hours. An exception is drainage backup caused by the tenant through negligence or intentional actions, such as flushing large objects down a toilet or pouring grease or oil down a drainpipe. In those cases, the tenant may be responsible for repairs and any damages.
- Heating and cooling. This issue requires service within 24 hours since poor climate regulation can be dangerous in extreme temperatures during winter and summer.
- Termites, ants, wasps, rodents, and other infestations of animals and insects. These must be taken care of by the landlord. In some cases, these infestations can lead to structural damage and can create potential health threats. Similarly, mold detection must be addressed in a timely manner.
Landlords must also disclose toxins in the home, such as lead-based paints and asbestos found within the building structure or insulation.
Due diligence can save renters
Tenants should examine electrical outlets, basic plumbing functionality, and structural soundness when viewing a potential rental property to determine whether proper upkeep has been fulfilled. This can alert you to possible neglect or of the landlord’s refusal to provide maintenance.
Renters facing a landlord who will not perform maintenance and repairs have several different options, depending on the scenario. An experienced attorney can help determine the best course of action.