Tenant Responsibilities

13 Replies

I have a property that is being managed by a property management company.  I have been getting a large amount of expenses on the property lately. Some seem legit but other do not.  I wanted to get the opinion from other landlords on what should be the responsibility of the tenant to pay for, and what the home owner should pay for.

Some of the expenses from the management company :

- Trash cleanup (beer cans in front yard)

- Mowing (who do you typically make responsible for yard maint.? you or the tenant?)

- Leaves

- Glass in garbage disposall

- repainting interior walls (not sure of the reason)

Also, the expense reports I get from the company are cut off the sheet because of the way the report is formatted/ printed, so I don't really know exactly is being charged and why, and they are telling me that they can't print the sheet horizontally to show more info... this sounds really sketchy to me.

Thanks in advance

~rookie landlord

The mowing and leaves should be part of your lease, either way.  My rentals are single families, and the lawn is the tenant's responsibility.  But if it were not part of the lease, I would expect it to be my responsibility.

Glass in the disposal sounds like a tenant issue to me.

Paint, there is really no way to tell.  How old was the paint there? Was there some other repair that required painting/patching?

Beer cans in the yard, depends on who put them there.  The tenant needs to pick up their own trash of course.  But they are not responsible for vandalism or littering by others.  I would expect my tenants to pick them up, but that is because my tenants would never think of calling and asking me to come pick up beer cans.  If yours are calling for that, it may be a consequence of having been nickeled and dimed in the past.

@Barrett Boone - Do you have a copy of the lease? It should state if the tenant is responsible for lawn care or if it is included in the rent. It would also depend on if it is a SFH or more than 1 unit. On our triplex properties we are responsible for trash cleanup and lawn care.

As far as glass in the garbage disposal, it depends on your lease.  Does it state that tenants are responsible for neglect?

The painting of the walls should only occur during turnover, and again it would depend on your lease.  Does it state the tenants must return the property to move in condition?  How long have thy been there?  does it fall under normal wear and tear?

You should be demanding full reports that you can properly view.  My PM and I share a bank account so I can see everything in real time and we have a $200 authorization limit where he needs my approval if spending more than $200 to add a layer of protection on overspending.  And still we talk at least once a week about things going on with the properties and bank account

The other thing to be careful of is any instructions, whether in the lease or otherwise, that the tenants have received from the PM.  Very often, they will be instructed to do nothing, and call the PM for everything.  If that happens and you are billed, that is something you are going to have to work out with the PM, not bill to the tenant.

Thank you for your replies. For clarification I think this would be classified as a SFH (one unit, 5 tenants) in a college town. I went back and looked at the lease and there isn't anything about lawn care so that would fall under my responsibility.

However for the garbage disposal it does say that the lessee is responisble for clogs/ stoppages of the disposal.  So that's something that PM should be charging back to the lessee correct?

@Brie Schmidt   It has been like pulling teeth to get full reports (in fact I still haven't received a full report yet). I'm going to keep trying to get them though.

I really like the idea of a $200 authorization limit, and having a weekly discussion with the PM.  I think alot of these issues could be resolved with a weekly phone call instead waiting until a month after the work has already been done.

@Barrett Boone  -  How long has it been since you have not gotten a report?

My PM manages 11 units for me so weekly calls are pretty necessary... but even if it is under $200 he sends me a text or something letting me know what's up.

@Brie Schmidt  I have never actually received a full description of expenses.  I get a cash flow statement with an expense report every month, but the description of the expenses are usually cut of so only a couple words show up. I've asked for them to be printed landscape or something where I can see the full descripiton, but the PM claims the software won't allow it.

That PM sounds great! I'm feeling pretty in the dark with mine right now... I don't know anything is wrong until I get the expense report

Uhm... It's probably time to find a new PM if they can't even provide a decent report....

I make the tenants responsible for cutting the grass and taking care of the snow removal and leaves.  Also they are to pick up litter if it blows onto the property.  I explain to them that I know its not "their" litter but the goal is to keep the place looking nice and I know they want to live in a nice place.

If someone put glass down the garbage disposal then it's on the tenant to reimburse.

Why would anyone need to paint the interior again?  If you don't know the reason, you need to find out.

This is your money -- take charge of it.

I self manage so I cons not speak to the pm part. I can say that all of those items minus the inter paint is totally their responsibility. I don't paint typical while tenants are in the home so I cannot speak to that subject.

I have a 14 page lease that so "very" specific and that has solved many of the issues. I also have started requiring tenants to cover the first $100 of all repairs!

Hi Barrett,

I'm a property manager and there are several items in your post (well most of them) that stand out as red flags. The biggest one is that you're scratching your head wondering about certain expenses. It is the PM's job to keep you advised on everything that is going on. You should never, ever feel like you're in the dark when it concerns your property.

When it comes to maintenance/repairs, most PM companies require a reserve fund of, say, $300, from which the PM can draw to pay for minor repairs or maintenance. My practice is to notify the owner that a repair needs to be made. I'll try to reach them by phone and then follow up in writing so that I have documentation.

Financial reports should be issued promptly If you're not getting your reports by the 15th of the month at the latest, something's not right. My company uses an online owner's portal where the owner can access account activity in real time. They can also access the lease, work orders, invoices for expenses, monthly reconciliations, etc.

The responsibility for lawn care should have been addressed in the lease. Most single family renters are responsible for it, but some owners may decide to build the expense into the rent so they can sure it's being done.

I can't imagine too many reasons why there would be a paint job that didn't involve some kind of damage on the tenant's part. One of those reasons could be a leaky pipe that required cutting through the drywall. 

If it's normal wear and tear then you're obviously responsible, but if any repairs are the result of damage due to negligence, then the tenant should be charged. But that should also be spelled out in the lease.

Good luck!

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

I self manage so I cons not speak to the pm part. I can say that all of those items minus the inter paint is totally their responsibility. I don't paint typical while tenants are in the home so I cannot speak to that subject.

I have a 14 page lease that so "very" specific and that has solved many of the issues. I also have started requiring tenants to cover the first $100 of all repairs!

 How can you say that, when the lease is silent as to lawn care?  Pretty obvious that it is NOT on the tenant, as far as I can see.

@Brie Schmidt  I have some duplexes and I put in everyone's lease that they are responsible for keeping the lawn trim and snow/ice clear of walkway and steps. I explain verbally to tenants when they move in, that how they work it out with their neighbor in the building is up to them. I could see this probably not working for a building--say--with more than 3 or so units though. But figured I'd point it out for you or those who have 2 or 3 unit buildings. 

@Richard C.  

I think that is area dependent. I invest in single family homes, while that is almost always specified in the contract. The assumption is that it is NOT covered in my areas unless specified. I think that is where you need to know the norm. It is also important to know the precedent that is set. What has happened since day one?

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