Tenant Responsibilities

LandLordStation.com Tenant Responsibilities

LandLordStation.com offers a variety of information that is helpful to renters including suggestions about tenant responsibilities. It is important to learn how to be a good tenant because a record of tenancy will follow you in the same way a credit report follows you, year after year. What are landlord responsibilities? Learn here.

Being a good tenant is more than just paying your rent on time. The following is a list of some of the things that landlords consider important for tenants to do.

1) Pay Rent On Time: Paying your rent on time is, of course, the most important attribute of a good tenant. If possible, arrange for a direct deposit to your landlord on or before the date the rent is due. Tell you landlord that you want to pay your rent online. If you mail your rent payment, send the check or money order 3 to 5 days prior to the due date to allow for mailing time.

If you ever have a problem with paying your rent on time, contact your landlord immediately. You may still have to pay a late fee, but a landlord will be much more understanding about your situation if you stay in contact. Most landlords understand that sometimes unforeseen things happen which are beyond your control. Make arrangements to pay the rent as soon as possible. If you avoid the landlord, he or she will have no choice but to assume the worst, and will probably start the eviction process. If you have had a catastrophic event that is so severe that you have to move, let your landlord know and make as much of a payment as you can while making arrangements to pay the balance.

2) Maintain the Property: Another important tenant responsibility is keeping the property clean and free of damage. Keep the bathroom and kitchen areas clean and neat by sweeping and mopping regularly. Also, keep the stove area clean; a greasy stove can be dangerous because it can cause a fire. If you have laundry facilities in your rental, keep the lint filters clean on the dryer because lint buildup can also cause a fire. Keep the outside area of your rental free of trash. If you are renting a house, keep the yard mowed and trimmed in spring and summer and remove snow from sidewalks in the winter. If there is a pool that you are responsible for maintaining, keep it clean and monitor any guests. These cleaning and maintenance duties legally fall under what is called “reasonable care of the property” and you must perform them by law.

3) Notify Landlord of Property Issues Promptly: If a repair for plumbing, or an appliance, is needed due to an action on your part, the landlord must fix the problem, but can charge you for the repair. For example, if you flush feminine hygiene products or diapers down a toilet, causing a clog and overflow, this is considered your fault. Another instance where damage can be considered your responsibility is if you do not report a needed repair that later leads to damage. An example of this is not reporting a continual leak under the kitchen sink, which can eventually cause dry rot. When you do not report a problem, it can become a battle to determine how much the owner should pay, and how much you should reimburse to the owner. Although the initial problem is the owner’s, you contributed to the damage by not reporting the issue.

4) Get Landlords Permission Before Starting Home Improvement Projects: If you want to make an improvement to the property such as adding new carpet, painting, planting flowers, or a garden, get the landlord’s permission in writing first. A landlord may be willing to reimburse you for the cost of the materials, or even the labor, but never assume that the landlord will allow the changes you want to make, or that he or she will reimburse you for costs or labor. Most importantly, never deduct for the cost of any items or any changes that you make from your monthly rental amount without prior permission in writing. If the landlord does agree to allow you to make any improvements, keep copies of any receipts for materials. Any changes you make will become the property of the landlord.

5) Do Not Let Others Live Off-Lease: Never allow any person who is not listed as a tenant on the lease to live on the property. When you let someone move in to share the rent and expenses, you must first have written permission from the landlord. If you do not get written permission from the landlord, your lease becomes void and you can be evicted. Many states allow a landlord to charge double rent if you allow someone to move in and this double charge is retroactive from the beginning of the lease. Also, you will be the one responsible for the additional rent, not the person you allowed to move in, since you are the only one on the lease.

6) Honor Your Contract: Under the law, a lease is a binding contract. You are not excused from honoring a lease simply because you do not understand it or did not read it. If you do not like some of the provisions of the lease, ask the landlord to change those provisions. If the landlord refuses to make those changes, you have to decide whether to go ahead and sign the lease, or find another place to rent. When you and the landlord make changes to the lease, be sure to put your initials by the changes and have the landlord do the same. Do not rely on verbal statements. All promises should be in writing.

7) Be a Good Pet Owner: If you are allowed to keep pets under the lease agreement, be sure to control your pets. Keep your pets from becoming a nuisance, or a danger, to others. Clean up after your pets and treat them in a humane manner. Promptly repair any damage that your pet has caused or pay a professional to do the repair. If the damage is so extensive that it cannot be repaired without seriously altering the property, for example a large hole in a carpet, you must contact the landlord and make arrangements. Your landlord will either have new carpet installed immediately, or he or she may choose to wait until your lease expires, and you move out, to have new carpet installed. In most states, you will have to pay to repair the damages, even if there is a pet deposit. Your landlord can also raise your pet deposit and require that you pay an additional deposit. A landlord can also terminate your lease if there is a problem with your pet, especially if you have one that attacks or injures other animals or people.

8) Be Lawful: It is your responsibility as a tenant to keep the premises free of illegal activity. If you have friends who do drugs on the rental property, for example, you are responsible. Your landlord can evict you immediately for this violation of the law, whether you participated in the illegal activity or not.

9) Leave Properly: Notify your landlord in writing at least 30 days prior to terminating your lease. This, however, does not apply if you are in the military. Active-duty members of the armed forces may terminate a lease with 15 days' notice under the provisions of the Service Members Civil Relief Act.

These are some of the most important tenant responsibilities. If you maintain a good relationship with your landlord, you are likely to get a good reference, and any credit reporting information pertaining to the property will be favorable. Information based upon your performance as a tenant can follow you for years. It is always a good idea to be a responsible tenant.

If you have more questions about tenant or landlord responsibilities, visit the Tenant Resource Center or Renter's Guide at LandLordStation.com. We have a large assortment of free resources to help you maintain a great relationship with your landlord.

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