Having a rental property is a great way to earn residual income. However, if you are managing a property for a landlord, you need to be sure the property is issue-free before renting. If it is not, you could be liable for making the repairs to a property. We are sharing some tips today to help the tenants – the individuals who will be renting the apartment or home – to ensure that their home is truly move-in-ready.
Before you sign the lease, take the time to walk through the apartment or home and document any problems you see. The best way to do this is to photograph any problems and make a list of where they are and what is the issue. Provide a copy of this information, by hand or by certified mail, to the landlord, the building manager, the superintendent, or the property manager. As a former leasing consultant, it was my job to do walk-through inspections with the tenants prior to their signing their lease. This form is very similar to the one our company used. Download the free PDF here.
Ideally, all repairs should be handled prior to you moving in and signing the lease. If you do find a problem within 7 to 10 days after moving in, immediately request the landlord or property manager to make the repairs needed. If they do not do so, you can then contact a service company on your own and get several estimates before you commit to a particular company. Make sure you obtain detailed receipts for any work done and have a paper trail showing you notified the landlord and/or property manager that this issue needed to be repaired and was not taken care of. Sending documentation via certified mail is a great way to have proof that they had proper notice of any issues.
If your lease agreement states that the landlord or the property management team is responsible for repairs to the apartment or the home, then you are entitled to deduct the cost of the repairs from your rent, or have the bill for the repairs sent directly to your landlord.
It is important to ensure your apartment or home is weather-protected and secure. Any areas where water can enter should be repaired prior to moving in. Landlords and property management firms also need to assess the urgency of the situation, since some states require a 24-hour emergency maintenance team for situations that render an apartment or home uninhabitable. Examples of such situations include no heat during the winter, major water leaks, frozen or burst pipes, etc.
Documenting the Damage
As a landlord, documenting the damages to the pet-friendly apartments for rent in Austin can help protect you from future problems. In some states, landlords must sign a “statement of condition” (or a variation of some type) before a tenant can move in. This document must list any damages that were present before the tenant moved in. This also protects you, the new tenant, from any damage or loss incurred by a previous tenant. It’s a good idea to take photos of any damages that you notice, as well as the general condition of the apartment.
When you document damage to an apartment before renting, it’s important to get a clear picture of the apartment’s condition. While most tenants will pay rent on time, some may do so carelessly, damaging the apartment beyond repair. If this is the case, you must ensure that you repair the damages you made to the dwelling, if you are that tenant. Otherwise, your landlord can claim you were negligent and deduct the repairs from your security deposit. This way, you can protect yourself from losing your deposit and avoid any further legal issues.
Contacting the Landlord
As we stated previously, if you notice any issues with the apartment or home when you are doing your initial walk-through, you need to contact the landlord as soon as possible to have them fixed. A broken lock on the front door could allow someone to break in without your knowledge. It is best to keep all communications with the landlord in writing.
Whether or not a landlord is responsive to your requests depends on the landlord’s efficiency and the state or city rent regulation laws. If a landlord does not fix problems quickly, you can file a complaint with the city’s housing and building commission where the home is located. If your local agency does not seem to be helping, you can always file a complaint with HUD.gov. These types of commissions and federal programs can order the landlord to make repairs and fine them if they do not. In addition, if you cannot resolve the problem with your landlord directly, you can also take them to court.
Getting the Landlord to Make Repairs
You, as the tenant, can do everything correctly and document everything you need to. While most landlords will try to remedy the situation immediately, there are those that will take too long or just flat out refuse to make repairs. As we stated previously, this is where your paper trail comes in, especially when sending notices via certified mail. Using certified mail will prevent your landlord from saying your complaint was lost or misdirected in the event you need to take the landlord to court to have your issue addressed and corrected.
When writing to your landlord, make sure you include your name, address, and date in your letter. Make sure you retain a copy of your letter since this can be used as proof that the landlord was aware of the problem. Also, do not be afraid to send several letters and keep all receipts. Make sure you are current on your rent when sending your notice. If the issue does need to go before the courts to be handled, your chances of winning are excellent if you have all of your paperwork in order and retained all of your receipts.
We hope that you find this information useful, and we would be happy to hear of any issues you may have had with a landlord previously and how it was resolved … so let us know in the comments below!