Understanding Tenant Repair and Maintenance Obligations

Property damage and disagreements over repair obligations account for a large portion of tenant-landlord disputes. Neither party ever wants to be responsible for repairs and maintenance if they can help it. And while landlords have gotten much bad publicity regarding their neglect or refusal to fix issues with their rental property, tenants do have some legal responsibilities when it comes to the maintenance and sometimes even repair of the property in which they are living.

Of course, any tenant you should always refer to his or her specific lease when it comes to determining your obligations, but generally speaking, your duties will include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

Cleaning

You are obligated to keep the home reasonably clean and adhere to any relevant health and safety codes. You don’t have to be a neat freak, but if your living habits and lack of cleanliness cause the home to become a health hazard or leads to issues, you could be found to have failed to fulfill your responsibilities as a tenant, which means you are in violation of your lease and could potentially be evicted. This also normally includes properly maintaining the home’s plumbing. Landlords are responsible for providing proper plumbing, but you must maintain it appropriately while you reside in the rental unit.

Waste disposal

Just as it is important to maintain a clean home it is also important to properly dispose of your own waste. Unsurprisingly, tenants are usually required to take out the trash and handle the home’s waste management unless for some reason the lease says otherwise.

Properly using home’s features

Tenants must use the various features and fixtures of the rental unit in the manner which they are intended to be used. This includes things like the plumbing, electricity, appliances like the washer and dryer, and anything else included in the home. This means what you think it means: do not attempt to use any feature in the home for something other than what it is meant for, such as throwing a bunch of rocks into your dryer or attempting to flush things which are not meant to go down the toilet. Doing so may be a violation of your lease, and if the item is broken as a result of your actions, you may be responsible for its repair.

Fixing things you break

When things in your rental unit break on their own or need repairs simply due to normal wear and tear, you as the tenant are not responsible—your landlord is. However, if your actions result in unreasonable damage to the property, you will generally be responsible for any necessary repairs. For example, if you throw a house party and a hole gets punched in the wall, you will be obligated to pay for the repair. Whether or not you are responsible only for paying to have something repaired, or actually paying for and facilitating the repair will depend on your lease and your landlord’s preferences. He or she may want you to take care of hiring a contractor to fix the wall, or they may simply want you to pay for it and use their preferred contractor to fix it. Whatever the case may be, if you are at fault for the damage, you probably be obligated to pay for the damage. If you fail to repair an issue in a reasonable amount of time after your landlord has notified you in writing that you are obligated to repair it, then your landlord may proceed with filing an eviction in court.

Repair and maintenance responsibilities between tenants and landlords can be tricky. Thus, both parties should seek legal counsel before attempting to take any action against the other. A skilled landlord-tenant attorney like Hegel Laurent of the Laurent Law Office can advise you as to your rights and responsibilities when it comes to repairs and maintenance, whether you are a landlord or a tenant. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at (786) 453-7198 or simply send an email at HLaurent@LLOLegal.com.

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Written by LaurentLawOffice

LaurentLawOffice

Laurent Law Offices, P.L. is committed to helping renters and landlords alike to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution to any dispute. Attorney Hegel Laurent has been a tenant for the vast majority of his life and he understands the intricacies of Landlord-Tenant law codified in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. He received his J.D. from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Law School and he is passionate about representing both those who rent property or those who own rental property.

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