Anyone who owns real estate knows maintenance is just part of the gig. When you own rental property, however, the responsibilities for some of those maintenance tasks can become a little more ambiguous. Is it the tenant who should be tasked with fixing an issue in their rental unit, or will you or your property management company be taking care of the repairs?

How to Delineate Maintenance Repairs and Responsibilities in Your Lease

Successful real estate investors know they need to set aside a healthy budget for maintenance and repairs (after all, nearly 40 percent of a property owner’s expenses go to maintenance), but not all damage or repairs have to be the responsibility of the owner.

In Ohio residential leasing agreements, the tenant is normally responsible for certain items, and the landlord is responsible for others. Specifically, the landlord is required to keep the unit safe, habitable, and sanitary.

This means maintaining heating and cooling systems, ensuring that clean water is available, and taking other necessary steps to keep the overall property in good shape.

It’s the gray areas that often cause the most confusion and contention. To prevent mishaps and miscommunication between landlords and tenants, clearly spell out in your lease who is responsible for what in terms of maintenance, especially when it comes to something that sits more on the margins.

A common example is a garbage disposal. If the garbage disposal stops working, our leases at RL Property Management specify that it’s the tenant’s responsibility to clear it if there’s a clog. If it’s a GFCI that tripped, they need to fix that too.

Conversely, if the garbage disposal has reached the end of its life and is no longer working, then it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of the issue.

Determining who should handle which maintenance items and then putting those terms in your lease can make the day-to-day management of your property a lot easier and keep tenant relations running smoothly. In general, our lease agreements try to make many maintenance issues the tenant’s responsibility so long as we can legally do so while still being a good landlord. This allows us to protect the property owner and prevent them from incurring unnecessary expenses.

If you have questions about property maintenance or responsibilities, give our team a call at 614-725-3059.