Landlord Responsibilities: Tenant’s Rent Struggles Lead To Repair Requests
There is a legal contract between a property owner and a tenant once the lease agreement begins. Both parties have responsibilities they need to uphold once the contract is signed, stating the expectations and standards upon each other.
One of the main issues and arguments that have occurred amongst a property owner and a tenant is, whether the property owner is responsible for maintenance and repairs regardless if the tenant has missed their rental payments.
Typically, it can be a back and forth issue for a while but can be eventually resolved without someone filing a complaint and leading to a court appearance. But what happens when legal action needs to be taken if the property owner withholds maintenance repairs because the tenant is withholding rental payments?
When leasing a residential property to a tenant, the property owner is fully responsible to make sure the property is functional and habitable prior to the tenant’s move-in date. It is also required of a property owner to respond to any repairs needed or requested by the tenant during the leasing agreement.
Certain repairs and maintenance requests vary from state to state, so one must be clear on the state laws regarding these issues. This information can be found at your local health department and check out these tips on how to review your residential property before a tenant moves in.
If the property owner does not uphold their end of the leasing contract in relation to maintenance and keeping the property habitable for the tenant, there are several approaches that can be taken. The property owner is held accountable to respond to maintenance problems within 24 hours and resolved within 48 hours.
The tenant can choose the elective to withhold rental payment until the needed repairs are made, hire an outside party of their choosing to make the repairs, or contact local authorities to report the violation of the residential agreement.
The most imperative liability a tenant must maintain during the leasing agreement is to pay their rent on time. The property owner has their right to evict a tenant if rent is not paid after a certain time.
They must also maintain the unit to which they are renting, keeping it sanitary and habitable. When issues arise regarding the property, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to report the problem as soon as possible.
If maintenance issues are unreported, the property owner can keep the initial deposit given or possibly charge the tenant for repair charges needed due to “recklessness” for not sustaining the property at a certain standard agreed prior to signing the contract.
Of course, it can be difficult at times to contact your property owner to report any issues within the property and may not be fixed with the 48-hour period. Withholding rental payment until the reported issues are fixed can lead to legal complications.
Potential Legal Action
Again, both the tenant and property owner have continuous responsibilities over the course of the leasing agreement. The property owner must respond to the tenant’s requests and the tenant must pay rent. If neither party sustains their end of the arrangement, both parties can take legal action with their concerns about the opposing party.
When it comes to the rental payment, it is non-negotiable to pay. If a tenant intentionally makes the choice to not make their payment to the property owner until the maintenance requests are fixed, they can make a complaint through the court system which may potentially grant them an abatement during the time the rental property was “inhabitable”. The rental payment must be made regardless of the situation. Therefore, it would be made through a court clerk.
Just as the tenant has rights to ensure responsibility of the property owner to upkeep the property, the property owner also has legal rights when payment is being withheld. Check out: How to Handle Tenant Issues the Right Way for Landlords. They can either choose to evict, like mentioned earlier in the article, or the property owner has the right to file a non-payment of rent case and take further action needed.
Again, the tenant and the landlord have responsibilities to sustain during the contract even if payments or requests have not been made. It is important for the property owner to maintain a habitable environment for the tenant, and the tenant is responsible to contact the property owner for any maintenance issues and pay rent on time.