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Basic Rental Property Maintenance: Who Does What?

Oxbow Tenant Replacing a Battery in the Smoke DetectorAs an Oxbow property owner, it is foremost to be aware of who is responsible for what so far as it concerns basic rental property maintenance. To keep your rental property in more than fair condition and profitable, it’s pretty basic to have a proactive property maintenance system in place. This maintenance may be implemented by you or by a service technician. Except, there are countless small maintenance tasks that you can and should expect your tenant to take care of. Here are quite a few of the most common rental property maintenance tasks and who is normally responsible for each one:

Clogged toilets.  If a toilet becomes clogged, it is usually the tenant’s responsibility to clear out the blockage. But on the contrary, there may be exceptions, for example, if the blockage is caused by plumbing conflicts unrelated to the tenant’s use. In this context, you would certainly need to handle the repairs yourself or call a professional.

Broken windows. If a window is broken, it is most certainly either the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility to repair or replace the window. The thing is that the responsibility for window replacement lies with the core reason for the breakage. If the window was broken due to tenant negligence, they should pay to replace it. But, on the other hand, if a window is damaged due to severe weather or other situations out of a tenant’s control, the property owner is responsible for fixing it. Consider that this may be a security issue; mitigation is the key here.

Lightbulbs. Typically, tenants are responsible for replacing lightbulbs in their rental homes. The thing is that any light fixtures are considered part of the tenant’s living space.

Carpeting and flooring. When it comes down to the cleanliness of flooring, this would be a tenant’s responsibility.  If the flooring shows signs of damage or is worn out, then the responsibility conventionally falls to the Oxbow property manager. This is related to the fact these are details of the property that see a lot of wear and tear over time. In a few situations, though, tenants may be responsible for damage to carpeting or flooring. Accordingly, the tenant would need to pay for the repairs.

Batteries in smoke and CO detectors. Smoke and CO detectors are integral for keeping a rental property safe. The batteries in these devices should be tested and replaced if applicable. Now and again, state law indicates whether it is the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility to replace the batteries. It doesn’t matter with whom the responsibility lies, as a landlord, you should always make sure you are checking and replacing batteries two times per year.

Air filters.  Air filters help keep the air in a rental property clean and free of pollutants. As a rule, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to replace the air filters. But as a matter of fact, a handful of properties have air filter systems that tenants cannot easily access and change themselves. In this event in your rental property, it is your responsibility to always make sure that your air filters are changed regularly.

When assigning maintenance tasks to your tenants, it’s critical to use clear language defining all responsibilities in your lease. This will help to elude any differences of opinion or disagreements down the road. By distinguishing who is responsible for what so far as it concerns rental property maintenance, you can keep your property in very fair condition and avoid any potential legal problems.


Rental property maintenance can be time-consuming, primarily if you have to constantly check whether your tenant is fulfilling their responsibilities. But Real Property Management Optimum can help. We are experts in single-family rental property management, and we can more efficiently take care of all maintenance for you. Contact us online to learn more about our quality services.

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