When it comes to your Roanoke rental property, certainly responsibilities are clearly yours and others are clearly your tenant’s.
For example, your tenant’s main responsibility is to pay rent every month. Your main responsibility is to provide a safe, habitable, well-maintained home.
If there’s going to be any confusion about who is responsible for what, the issue will likely concern maintenance, cleaning, and repairs. Maintaining a rental property requires a good partnership between owners, tenants, and vendors. You need to be clear about what’s expected from your tenants and there has to be some documented division of responsibilities.
If you’re working with a Roanoke property management company, you won’t have to worry about the process or the particulars because you’ve got a team of expert property managers taking care of most maintenance issues. But when you’re an independent landlord wondering how to approach the maintenance and repairs needed at your property, you’ll need to know what your responsibilities are and what you can expect from your tenants.
Let’s examine how the typical repairs are managed for both tenants and landlords during a tenancy. We have some advice on who should be responsible for them, based on our own property management and investment experience and best practices.
This is also a good time to remind you that a strong lease agreement is important, and so is a reliable network of licensed and insured vendor and contractors.
Roanoke Lease Agreements and the Division of Responsibilities
When we’re talking about property rentals, everything starts with the lease agreement. The lease you sign with your tenants is one of the most important documents you’ll have to protect your property and to divide up the responsibilities of maintaining it.
The lease is where almost every question should be answered. It’s the legal document that we put into place to protect you and your tenants from any disputes, conflicts, and even potential lawsuits. Without a legally binding and compliant lease agreement, you will not be able to hold your tenants accountable or protect the integrity of your rental home.
Every property owner uses their own lease agreement. Make sure you find one that’s legally compliant for the state of Virginia. Downloading a lease you find online from New York or California won’t be much help. If you don’t know where to get a lease agreement, contact a Roanoke property manager or a lawyer who specializes in real estate law.
We’ve said before that our legal background is one of our most important tools. We know how to put together a great lease that’s legally enforceable. We also know how to make sure that all the responsibilities are assigned to either you or your tenants.
Things will break. Light bulbs will burn out and air filters will need to be changed. The heat may go out in the winter, and you’ll have to decide who is responsible for lawn care and snow removal. You may have some assumptions about who is going to take care of these things. Your tenants likely have their own assumptions.
Keep expectations consistent by putting these things in the lease agreement. A good lease will specifically state who is responsible for maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and upkeep. A good lease will be specific.
General Landlord Repair Responsibilities in Roanoke Rental Homes
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to your tenants and the community to provide a rental home that’s safe and habitable. Everything inside that home must work. Tenants cannot safely move into or reside in a home that has doors that don’t lock or a lack of running water.
- You’re responsible for conducting a complete inspection before the move-in date so you can be sure everything is working. This will also document the condition of your investment home.
- You are responsible for repairing and maintaining all of the major functions and systems in the property, including the electricity, the plumbing, the heating, and the appliances. You’ll need to respond to these repair issues and pay for them.
- Landlords are also responsible for responding to emergencies. If the tenant calls because a sink began leaking and the house is flooding, you’ll be responsible for responding to that emergency and making any repairs that are needed to keep the home habitable.
- Safety is another landlord responsibility. Make sure your rental home has a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. Check the locks on all doors and windows. Look for trip hazards or potentially dangerous conditions.
General wear and tear repairs are also the responsibility of Roanoke landlords. When you’re conducting your move-out inspection after a tenant leaves, you’ll probably notice scuff marks on the all and in the carpet from where furniture was placed. You’ll find nail holes in the walls and extra lint in the dryer hoses. You’ll have to pay for these repairs. Tenants aren’t required to pay for anything except damage that they caused at the property or lease violations that resulted in extra expenses.
We also recommend that you retain control of landscaping. While tenants are sometimes responsible for it, you may find that they don’t keep up with it as well as you might like. Hire a landscaping service and someone who does snow removal. You can roll that cost into the rent if you want tenants to be responsible for paying for it, but not for doing it.
You’re also responsible for putting together a great network of vendors and contractors who can be relied upon to make the necessary repairs and treat your tenants and your property with respect.
At Lawson Realty Group, we have our own maintenance team. This is extremely valuable when we have to make the repairs that you’re responsible for as an owner. We can ensure the scheduling works for you and your tenants, and we can keep costs controlled.
Develop relationships with an outstanding team of partners who stand by their work, charge competitive rates, and provide preventative services as well as immediate responses. At the very least, you’ll need a good plumber, an electrician, a roofer, an HVAC tech, and a team of people who can provide lawn care, snow removal, cleaning, painting, and flooring.
General Roanoke Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities
Deferred and unreported maintenance issues are always more expensive and complicated. For that reason, the most important tenant responsibility when it comes to repairs is notifying you when something is broken or in need of attention. You want to know right away, even if you’re not going to be able to make a minor repair for a few days. Reinforce this responsibility with your residents.
We know that some tenants are hesitant to report issues because they don’t want to be disruptive or they worry they’ll be blamed or even charged for the repair. Put these fears to rest and create a relationship where your tenants feel comfortable communicating with you when something goes wrong at the property. It protects the condition of your home and it’s an important responsibility to drive home with your residents.
While landlords are typically responsible for most repairs and replacements, there are some specific occasions where you can expect your tenants to take responsibility.
- It’s a tenant’s responsibility to keep the property clean. We know that everyone has a different standard of cleanliness, but you can reasonably expect your tenants to keep the property clean enough that there isn’t a problem with pests, insects, or trash inside the home.
- Tenants are responsible for changing air filters regularly and light bulbs when they burn out. If a battery needs replacing in a remote device, the tenants should buy the battery rather than expecting their landlord to do it.
- Minor repairs that are easily and safely managed can be a tenant’s responsibility. If a screen comes off a window, the tenant can put it back into place. If a garbage disposal needs to be reset, the tenant can safely push that button.
Damage that’s caused by a tenant or a tenant’s guest is always the tenant’s responsibility.
If your rental property is in an HOA, your tenant is also responsible for following those rules and regulations. This isn’t necessarily a repair issue, but if the HOA sends a letter about the grass being too long and the tenants are responsible for the lawn according to your lease agreement, any fines or penalties levied from the HOA should be the responsibility of the tenant.
Roanoke Property Management Can be an Asset
It doesn’t take long for owners to realize that maintaining a rental home requires more planning, budgeting, and work than expected. It’s an excellent reason to work with a Roanoke property management team. We have processes in place, great vendors, and an understanding of what we need to do to hold tenants accountable.
As property managers, we’re focused on preventative maintenance so we can keep your costs down. We take out time when we’re inspecting properties, and we communicate well with tenants so they understand their responsibilities when it comes to keeping your property clean, functioning, and well-maintained. We have all the systems in place that you need.
Please contact us at Lawson Realty Group if you need help maintaining your Roanoke investment property or managing your Roanoke tenants. We manage properties in Southwest Virginia throughout the Roanoke Valley, including Salem, Cave Spring, Hollins, Vinton, Glenvar, and Southwest Roanoke County.