Renting a home in Baltimore County VS buying a home has many benefits for residents. The majority of the maintenance responsibly falls on the landlord or property manager in Baltimore County, Maryland. With that being said, it is vital that you, as the landlord or your property management company, educate your Baltimore County residents on their part in the maintenance process and what issues they can handle themselves. Some residents expect that the landlord or property manager will handle every maintenance request. Hence, let us take some time to look at common issues that your tenant could be held responsible for and give you some tips to help them handle those maintenance issues.
Tenant Responsibility- Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
In an effort to standardize the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants as well as set minimum standards at the Federal level, the Uniform Residential and Tenant act was passed in 1972. Until that time, if a dispute arose between a landlord and their tenant, it was common for the landlord to come out victorious, leaving the tenant with very little recourse or control when their landlord attempted to abuse the situation. The act forced landlords to meet standards of safety and habitability when it came to their rental properties.
The act focused mostly on the landlord’s responsibility to tenants and did not suggest that tenants couldn’t be held responsible for damage done to a property they were leasing. In short, landlords were required to maintain their rental properties to a minimum standard of safety and habitability. At the same time, tenants would be held responsible for certain general maintenance items, preventing damages that could be incurred through proper care and upkeep, and could be held accountable for damages arising from issues that were not correctly reported to the property management company or landlord.
Tenants versus Landlords- Maintenance Tips for Baltimore County Landlords
If you are currently renting a home in Baltimore County or in Maryland, you are responsible for large ticket maintenance items such as:
- Hot water
- Running water and sewage disposal.
- Lead paint &
- Defects in the structure of the property
- Bedbug infestations
While on the other side of the equation, we have the tenant, who should be responsible for a few general maintenance items. It is always best practice to include these in your lease agreement, and they are as follows:
- Grounds maintenance such as lawn care, swimming pools, and snow/ice removal
- Pest extermination.
- General cleanliness
- Light blubs and battery replacements in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Damage to the property stemming from the lack of reporting an issue by the tenant.
A quick note- For this article, we are only discussing single-family homes; there are other maintenance issues that you or your resident may or may not be responsible for if you have a multifamily property.
Maintenance Tips For Tenants- Baltimore County Rental Maintenance tips
The lease agreement should lay out in detail the duties of the landlord and tenant. For the landlords reading this, having a resident onboarded at move-in and covering expectations upfront before the lease is signed the best tactic to ensure a successful tenancy. It is essential to remember your resident’s mindset when discussing the topic of maintenance. Most tenants are under the impression that the landlord or property management company will handle all maintenance, and therefore it is critical to discuss in detail, and before the lease signing that if an issue arises, that is caused by the tenant’s negligence, there may be some level of responsibility placed on them.
Some general maintenance items that your resident can handle are as follows:
Preventative Maintenance On The HVAC System
The landlord or property manager is responsible for providing the system and ensuring that it works properly in the rental property. However, there are several maintenance tasks and best practices that should be followed to avoid a breakdown of the system.
- Quarterly filter changes. (Monthly for best results). Please note the filter’s size and only use a filter that is the correct size for the system.
- Don’t block floor or ceiling vents with furniture or other objects preventing proper airflow.
- Minimize system startups and shutdowns.
It is important to check periodically that there are no leaks present under the sink, from the washer, around the base of the toilet, or even from the air conditioner. It is your duty as a tenant to inform the landlord before any severe water damage occurs.
Preventing Clogged Toilets
This is one of the most common reasons residents request maintenance. You can prevent toilets from overflowing by not flushing foreign objects down the toilet, including:
- Cotton swabs
- Paper towels
To minimize damage in the event of a clogged or overflowing toilet, you can prepare by having a plunger on hand and clean up any water on the floor quickly.
Maintenance Tips: Proper use of garbage disposals
Placing large amounts of food and other foreign objects into the garbage disposal is the most common reason they will stop working. Before you call your property manager, do the following check GCFI outlets and the breaker to ensure they have not been tripped.
Try to reset the garbage disposal- You can do this by pushing a button at the bottom of the unit. Usually, it is red and will be located in the center.
Garage Door Basics.
Many newer homes are equipped with garage doors. Here are some helpful tips to consider if your garage door refuses to open or close properly:
- Check to make sure that something has not blocked the sensors. The sensors are usually located on the floor near the base of the garage door.
- Replace the batteries in the remote.
Conclusions from a Baltimore County Property Manager
Your lease agreement and the duties it lays out is critical for defining the relationship with your tenant. You can outline clearly what general maintenance items they will be responsible for and what happens if they fail to meet those obligations.
Having an onboarding process where you set expectations, discuss obligations, and cover the use of the properties mechanical systems as well as covering basics such as where the shutoff valves are located at the start of the tenancy is the key to not having to charge the tenant for major and minor issues alike.
Placing a well-vetted resident is a great way to make sure that they appreciate and care for the property. The best in Baltimore County Property Management has all maintenance requests handled. HomeWorks Property Management provides our residents with 24/7 365 maintenance to handle maintenance quickly anytime it arises.