Things To Know About Landlord Responsibilities vs. Tenant Responsibilities

By: ROS Team

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It’s one thing to argue with your partner about who gets to take out the garbage. However, when it comes to tenant and landlord responsibility, things can get a little more complicated. One of the most frequent complaints in lawsuits involving landlords and tenants is who is responsible for what. Let’s examine what you can do to hopefully avoid a messy, and sometimes pricey, renting situation.

Waste Management

It’s important that landlords discuss waste management with tenants. While you cannot order tenants to maintain clean houses, you can include language in the lease agreement that requires tenants to properly dispose of trash on the premises.

Property upkeep can also be a shared responsibility between landlord and tenant, with details specified in the lease agreement.

Read Also: Landlord VS Tenant: Who is Responsible for Cleaning

Plumbing, Heating, & A/C

The landlord is responsible for maintaining these systems and repairing them should any of them become defective or non-operational. On the other hand, one of the tenant’s responsibilities is to correctly use apartment HVAC and other systems. It’s also the tenant’s responsibility to report any issues they may experience early to avoid damage.

In addition, the residential lease agreement may designate the renter as the party responsible for keeping pipes clear and replacing air filters as needed. While the owner is responsible for repairing the systems, if they are determined to be defective due to tenant negligence, such as flushing a diaper down the toilet, the tenant may be held liable.

Smoke, Fire Alarms, & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Generally speaking, property owners are responsible for providing and maintaining the safety features of the house and replacing or repairing them as necessary. Depending on what’s stipulated in the lease agreement, the tenant may be required to update the batteries and test these systems to ensure they are operating correctly.


If the rental lease agreement refers to appliances, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain them. But if the tenant damages the appliance, the landlord has the right to deduct the cost of repair from the tenants security deposit.

Utility Bills

This is a somewhat ambiguous area. First of all, you should address the legal obligations you have with your property management. Some of these responsibilities are impacted by various factors, including the dwelling type and associated rules. Tenant responsibilities and landlord responsibility also depend on the way a property’s utilities are set up and metered. The renter usually is liable for all utility costs such as water, gas, electricity, and telephone.

Repairs & Maintenance

Landlords must be ready to fix or replace things at the property occasionally. Additionally, it is necessary to consider these expenses when budgeting. Routine and emergency repairs are considered the landlord’s responsibility.

Often, the landlord or property management needs to take prompt action, which could include repairing the following:

  • A ruptured water pipe or a significant water leak;
  • A clogged or broken toilet;
  • A gas leak;
  • Faulty electrical wiring;
  • Flooding or significant flood damage;
  • Storm, fire, or impact damage;
  • Hot water heater, stove, or heating equipment failure;
  • Major property/structural damage;
  • A significant issue in a stairwell, elevator, or other shared space that makes it difficult for the tenant to access or use the property.


Other repairs, such as loose fixtures, broken air conditioners, or faulty garage door opener remotes, are considered minor. Suppose a landlord fails to respond to essential maintenance promptly.

In that case, the tenant may be entitled to compensation because the landlord failed to provide functioning home equipment. Ignoring landlord responsibilities could be more costly than just the cost of the repairs it could cost a landlord a good tenant and damage the tenant landlord relationship. Any other repairs that are the renter’s fault must be fixed and paid for by the tenant.

Interior Maintenance

Interior upkeep can be delegated to the tenant. Keeping the premises in an acceptable condition and abiding by building, health, and safety laws are the landlord’s responsibilities unless the tenant has damaged the plumbing, stove, oven, or air conditioner intentionally or out of negligence. In those circumstances, the tenant is responsible.


The lease agreement will likely indicate who is responsible for maintaining the property’s landscaping. If an unmaintained property violates local regulations or the homeowners association (HOA) guidelines, landscaping becomes the landlord’s responsibility. Additionally, it is prudent for the owner to assume responsibility for landscaping to help prevent fire hazards on the property.

If the landlord deemed the renter responsible for landscaping maintenance as part of the lease, the landlord might pass on any fines for breaching local laws or HOA rules to the tenant.

External Maintenance

A variety of circumstances can influence who is ultimately responsible for maintaining the outside of the property. If a renter detects a water leak or sees evidence of gutter damage, for example, he or she must notify the landlord or property management; otherwise, the tenant may be held accountable for expenses associated with repairing the damage.

Unless specified in the lease agreement, landlord responsibilities include tree lopping, branch pruning, firebreak maintenance, and garden reticulation system maintenance. The renter is responsible for keeping the pool or spa clean and adequately treated. At the same time, the landlord is responsible for keeping those areas secure, safe for children, and in compliance with pool safety requirements.

Emergency Information

The lease agreement should include explicit guidance on what the tenant should do or who they should contact in case of an emergency. If a contractor performs certain repair services, such as a plumber or electrician, it may be beneficial to give their contact information to your tenants. This helps create a good tenant landlord relationship, especially should the need arise to use those services in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

To avoid confusion, read the rental contract carefully. Responsibilities vary by property, Therefore it’s critical not to assume that all lease agreements are the same. However, if in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the property manager first and ask what you are responsible for and what is handled by the property management company.

Read Also:

Rights and Responsibilities of NYC Tenants
Rental Utilities 101: Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities