I have noticed over the past couple of months on the various forums that I participate in that the most asked questions are about whether an expense is a landlord’s or a tenant’s.
While EVERY landlord is different these are my opinions and advice on what I do and would provide.
Whose Expense is it Anyway?
1. What does your lease identify as your responsibility versus the landlords?– I personally am a huge believer in having a detailed and complete lease. Therefore I have a deductible in my lease along with maintenance expectations. Therefore it is really easy for a tenant to realize that the first $100 of the expense is their expectation.
2. Wear and Tear versus Not– Most leases say that it if the breakage is caused by the tenant’s action and not normal wear and tear then the responsibility and liability for the repair is at the tenant’s expense. For example, flushing rice, bones, etc down the disposal and it breaking will be your expense. Landlords LOVE it when people are honest about repairs because they will find out 😉 Contact the landlord either way (most leases require the landlord to facilitate repairs ) but by being up front there are no surprises when you get the bill.
3. Normal Upkeep versus Landlord’s Repairs– Changing Filters, Light Bulbs, Smoke Detectors, Mulching, Landscaping, Mowing, Weeding, Shoveling, Leaves and Gutters, Interior Cleaning are all typically tenants responsibilities. Things like painting a deck is the landlord’s. My typical “rule of thumb” would be responsibilities done reoccurring less than a year would be a tenant’s. More than a year would be the landlord’s.
4. AS/IS versus Landlord’s Responsibility– It is very important that you read your lease. While in many houses the landlord is responsible there are some appliances that many will exclude such as refrigerators and washer/dryer. While it is VERY area dependent it is usually based on what is normally provided and what is extra. For example, in our house in California it is very normal to not provide these appliances. Therefore many landlords will supply them but provide them as/is. This means they will not repair them. Therefore it is important to read your lease (see number 1) and know your responsibilities before you get started. Saves some surprises down the road!
5. Repair versus Upgrade– The biggest thing that I see is tenants asking for upgrades and not repairs. A repair is to fix something back to working order. If you wish for a “newer” model than that it is an upgrade. A landlord is only required to keep everything in working order.
6. Homeowner Versus Rental – The last important thing to note is this is a rental. So while landlords will keep it in good shape and it is important to make it comfortable; they aren’t going to keep it upgraded (typically) to the same “level” that one would if it is your personal home. That being said, if it is not in the “budget” then usually a landlord with let you repair it at your cost or expense.
The biggest thing to note in the entire discussion is there is no such thing as a free lunch! If you are constantly asking for repairs, upgrades, improvements, etc. It is going to get annoying quick!
Side Note: I am not saying not to turn in repairs! A landlord is entrusting the multi hundreds of thousands of dollars asset into your hands. So it is very important to them that the home stay in shape. So I am not saying to not turn in the roof repair.
What I am saying is renting a home and then 3 months in asking for new carpets, paint or to upgrade fixtures is not going to go over well!
These properties were usually rented at the price they were at for the condition they were in. Be aware that if upgrades are kept requested (which is one’s right) that there is a VERY good chance the landlord will increase the rent. I am not saying that if you do all the repairs yourself the landlord “won’t.” I am just saying if you do then be ready.