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What Maintenance Am I Responsible For as a Landlord?

As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to keep your property in habitable condition. You must comply with the Virginia state and local building and housing codes that affect the occupants’ health and safety. Landlords are responsible “to make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.”

Here is a brief synopsis of the ten things you are responsible for maintaining as a landlord. For in-depth information on the laws governing your responsibilities, refer to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act .)

Each of these ten items relates to maintaining a fit premises as outlined by the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

1. Heating

Your property must have heat. If the heat is not working at all, it must be handled within 24 hours of learning of the issue. If the heat is working but faulty, repairs must be made within 48 hours.

2. Plumbing

Similar to heating, upon receiving notice of a plumbing issue (especially if there is just one bathroom in the dwelling) it should be addressed within 24 hours.

3. Electrical

The electricity must be kept in good, safe working order in the dwelling. And as fires can start from faulty electricity, it behooves to you make sure the electric is up to code and working properly.

Note: You must provide advance notice to tenants that you will be entering their home before entering the rental property at any time. Only in an emergency such as a fire or flood can a landlord legally enter a residence without advance notice.

4. Running Water

Water and reasonable amounts of hot water must be available at all times.

5. Ventilation and Air-Conditioning

The dwelling must have adequate ventilation and the air conditioning, if provided, must be maintained in good, safe working order.

6. Trash

You have to provide and maintain trash receptacles for your tenants as well as arrange for the regular removal of the trash from the premises. In a single family home, townhome or condominium the trash is usually included in the home owners association that you are already paying. If it’s not, then you can specify in the lease that the tenant is responsible for hiring a trash removal company if they choose.

7. Common Areas

If your property has two or more units, you are responsible for keeping the common areas clean and structurally safe.

8. Mold

You must maintain the property so as to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold. If there is visible evidence of mold, the landlord has to provide “mold remediation in accordance with professional standards.” In Virginia, there is a statute on the duty of landlord and managing agent with respect to visible mold.

9. Door and Window Locks and Peepholes

You are required to provide door and window locks on any single-family dwelling. If you have a multi-family building, then you are also required to install dead-bolt locks and peepholes in any exterior swinging entrance door.

10. Television Facilities

While you don’t have to provide cable, satellite, or other television facilities, you do have to offer access to these services so that the tenant can contract with a provider.

If you have the skillsets to handle maintaining each of these home systems, you’re in good shape to handle your property maintenance. If you need help with some of these areas, you may want to hire a contractor. (Read: How to Find a Reliable Contractor for more information.) You can also hire a property manager who will take all of these issues off of your plate. (Read: Top 10 Questions to ask a Property Management Company to educate yourself on how to screen a property management company.)

The Lease Is The Final Word

The lease should specify the maintenance responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant. For example, the lease can mandate that the tenant is responsible for maintaining the yard and landscaping. Your lease should clearly outline the tenant and landlord responsibilities, however circumstances always create uncertainties in this area; everything isn’t always black and white. This is where having an experienced property management professional can help. They have the experience to know what maintenance is reasonable to be expected of for both parties.