When you first move out and start to rent your own place, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that, although you as a tenant have cleaning responsibilities and obligations, the landlord you are renting from has duties of their own. As a tenant, it is important to be aware of what is legally expected of your landlord. Below is an overview of what your landlord is lawfully responsible for, in terms of building safety and premise liability.
The Home Must be Habitable Upon Renting
This may seem like an obvious statement, because if a property is being rented out to a tenant, then of course it must be fit to live in! However, you should be aware of the laws landlords are responsible for following. A home must be maintained for the tenant’s safety.
A home must be fit to handle potential harsh weather conditions and must have effective roofing protection as well as functioning doors, windows, and walls. Plumbing facilities provided in the home must work, including both the hot and cold water, and they must be connected to an effective sewage disposal system. Gas, heating, and electrical facilities must also be kept in good shape.
Garbage, debris, and pests must also be removed from the premises upon renting the property, providing the tenant with a clean and sanitary place to live. Stairways, railings, floors, and trash receptacles must be in acceptable working condition. The toilet, bathtub, and shower must be in well-ventilated and private rooms. Every room must have a means of receiving natural lighting, either through a window or skylight. Safe fire and emergency exists must also be present.
The Landlord Must Make Repairs to Keep the Home Habitable
The landlord must fund building repairs related to ordinary wear and tear. It is important to know that this obligation does not extend to repairs that are due to the tenant’s own negligence, such as pest infestations, or abuse of the furniture, facilities, or property. This also does not include damage coming from any of a tenant’s guests.
Normal wear and tear is damage to the property that would have occurred even with a tenant’s extreme care and caution. For example, opening the blinds on a normal basis may lessen their ability to function properly with time. This is normal wear and tear (because the tenant was using the blinds normally), and the landlord may not charge the tenant additional money to repair the blinds.
If a tenant gets injured on the property, and it can be proven that this is due to the landlord’s negligence in maintaining it, he or she will be held responsible for that injury. In order to prevent a tenant from getting injured, it is important for a landlord to periodically inspect the property — not only at the start or end of the lease — to determine that everything is safe and that tenants are not endangered from faulty appliances or negligent maintenance.