Landlord responsibilities are a specific set of legal rules that must be followed to uphold his end of the lease.
Top 7 Landlord Responsibilities
1. Provide a safe living space. This means that the home must comply with all local, state and federal building, housing and health codes that affect a tenant’s health and safety. Check with your city and county housing authority for a list of items that must be kept at minimum standards of functionality such as ventilation, structural integrity, plumbing and electricity. Some cities also require safety measures like dead bolts on all exterior doors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in each unit.
2. Make all necessary repairs to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Necessary repairs include appliances, leaky faucets, broken cupboards and even burnt out light bulbs. A landlord is expected to respond to a repair request within 24 hours and fix it within a reasonable time frame. If there is evidence that the landlord knew about a problem but did not act within a reasonable timeframe to fix it, he can be sued for an injury sustained as a result of the problem. In many states, renters may protect themselves by withholding rent until the repair is made or arrange the repair himself and subtract the cost from the next rent payment. In some states, the tenant can treat lack of action as a breach of contract and move out mid-lease.
3. Supply ample hot water and heat at all times.
4. Keep outdoor/connecting hallways and stairways safe and sanitary.
5. Provide garbage cans (if he or she owns four or more units in your building).*
6. Give you reasonable notice before entering your apartment
7. Keep his tenants safe from crime. This includes keeping stairways and common areas well lit and main doors and gates locked at all times. Exterior doors should have deadbolts and windows should have locks. On the flip side, a landlord must take reasonable care that his tenants are not criminals. A landlord who knows that his tenants are growing marijuana or selling drugs from his property and doesn’t report it to the police could be held accountable for any neighborhood crimes that can be linked to the drug-dealing operation, for example.
*Numbers 1-6 are enforced by the Implied Law of Habitability.
Things Your Landlord is Not Legally Allowed To Do (even if you are behind on your rent):
A. Evict you or threaten to evict you because you complained to him or about him or joined a tenant’s union.
B. Manipulate you into moving out of your apartment by shutting off utilities or changing the locks or making your living arrangement unpleasant in any way.
C. Enter your apartment without consulting you or repeatedly demand to enter. Typically, a lease will state that your landlord must give you at least twenty-four hours notice before entering.
D. turn someone away because of race, sex, religion, age, physical limitation, national origin or sexual orientation.
Your Landlord Should Carry Two Kinds of Insurance
Property insurance protects a landlord’s building from damages inflicted by outside sources, like fire, storms, vandalism and possibly earthquakes and floods.
Liability insurance covers the legal and medical bills when a landlord is sued for damage he allegedly inflicted on a tenant, including injuries caused by landlord neglect, discrimination, wrongful eviction and invasion of privacy.
Being an informed tenant can help protect you from a negative rental experience; a landlord’s responsibilities are a tenant’s rights. For a list of rental properties available in Whatcom County please visit Son-Rise Property Management.