As a landlord, you will inevitably encounter a situation in which you’ll need to determine who is liable for repairs to the home. Sometimes, you’ll find that each party will blame the other, leading to a difficult and frustrating situation for everyone involved. In our latest post, we will discuss ways to determine who is liable for repairs to your Massachusetts investment property and how you can easily resolve any differences that might come up.
Every landlord has had to deal with repairs to their rental properties. Sometimes they are forced to bite the bullet, paying for repairs they aren’t liable for. Other landlords will try to push off repairs on the tenant by either dragging their feet on the issue or flat out refusing to pay at all. Before letting any tenant move into your property, you’ll want to have a good understanding of who will be required to cover repair costs. Whether it be you or them, the house needs to be repaired and knowing who will pay the costs will save everyone from further hassles and headaches.
Lay It Out In The Lease
To avoid areas of contention in the first place, you’ll want to make sure your lease is very detailed in regards to these matters. Taking the extra time and having a long lease may seem complicated up front, but it will save you from a lot of costly situations down the road. It’s wise to enlist the help of a real estate attorney to help you make sure your lease is complete and comprehensive. Once you have it drafted, the same boilerplate lease can be used with other properties down the road. With property specific modifications of course. If your tenant is making repairs on their own and is hiring a contractor, make sure they are licensed before any work is done. This should be included in the lease as well.
When it comes to things like plumbing, heating, pests, electrical systems, and other major systems within the house, you are responsible for their functionality and repair. As a landlord, you have an obligation to provide a home that is habitable for your tenants. Not being able to use the water or turn on the light isn’t an acceptable living condition for your tenants who pay good money to be there. Air conditioning is not technically a requirement according to many leases, but as a good landlord, and decent human being, you’ll want to make sure the AC is in working order before your tenants move in, especially if your house gets hot in the summertime.
If you supply the appliances, as many landlords do, it is up to you to make sure they are kelp in working order. If the fridge goes out, you’ll have to cover the repair costs or purchase of a new unit. If the washer goes out, but you only supply the hook-ups, not the washer itself, the repair would obviously fall on the tenant. When choosing appliances for a rental property, keep in mind they are likely to receive a bit more wear and tear than the appliances in your home. Make sure the appliances you use are durable, can withstand frequent use, but won’t cost a fortune to replace.
When The Security Deposit Comes Into Play
For things outside of normal wear and tear, the security deposit may be used. This is what it is intended for, to cover damages specifically caused by the tenant, that are out of the normal scope. As with everything else, make sure this is fully outlined in your lease. All the details should be in writing to avoid any push back from your tenant. People will often expect to receive their entire security deposit back upon moving and will fight you tooth and nail to get it. After all, moving is often the time when people could use some extra money the most. When dipping into the security deposit to cover repairs, make sure you have all costs documented. Every cent spent should be for a valid reason, and not for something that should have been paid for by you.
If you are unclear about who needs to pay for repairs or if an agreement cannot be reached, it’s important to consult your lawyer to discuss how to proceed. You don’t want to find yourself in violation of the law by renting out a property that isn’t safe or liveable nor do you want to get stuck paying for repairs that are not your responsibility. When making repairs, it is important to have them done right away as not to cause further inconvenience for your tenant.