Landlord tenant law is important to understand because it will dictate what goes into your lease and how you can reduce your liability. It also informs the landlord and tenant of their responsibilities upfront, which helps prevent landlord tenant disputes. If you need a lease template, check out our residential lease agreement with 3 free templates.
General Landlord Responsibilities
Landlord responsibilities generally vary by state and should be outlined in detail in your written lease. They should specify such things as health and fire safety codes, and they should also outline what the landlord is responsible for fixing and how the landlord deals with the tenant’s security deposit.
General landlord responsibilities include:
Keep the property in good repair
Maintain smoke detectors and fire alarms as required by law
Maintain all common areas including hallways, outdoor spaces and basements
Make necessary repairs to keep property in habitable condition
Keep heating, electrical and plumbing systems in good working order
Collect a security deposit and keep it in a separate account, according to your state law, generally 1-2 month’s rent
Return the security deposit according to your state law, generally within 30 days of the tenant moving out
Essentially, landlords are responsible for maintaining a safe, hazard free property that is habitable for the tenants to live in and follows all local building, health and fire codes. Landlords are responsible for maintaining emergency systems such as heating, electrical and plumbing and repairing them as necessary. They are obligated to keep utilities on in common areas during the tenancy.