As a Santa Rosa landlord, you likely understand that you’re responsible for providing a safe and habitable property to the tenants who rent from you. Likewise, your tenants probably understand their most basic responsibilities: to pay rent and keep the property clean and in good condition.
However, there’s a lot more to be shared and assigned when it comes to the responsibilities involved with a rental property. Your lease agreement will be instrumental in stating who needs to do what. Make sure you spend some time going over that lease with your tenants before they move in. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Here are some of the general points to consider when you’re deciding how to establish your own responsibilities and those of your tenants.
Address and Communicate Responsibilities in your Lease Agreement
To avoid any confusion or excuses, make sure you’re using a strong lease that conforms to all state, local, and federal laws. You’ll want a lease that’s specific to California, and legally enforceable in the state. Don’t make the mistake of simply downloading a template you find online without knowing whether it will work for your property.
We recommend that you get a lease from an attorney or a Santa Rosa property manager so it protects you and your property. The California Apartment Association also has some great templates. Your lease should be detailed about who is responsible for which tasks. It should address everything from appliances to landscaping to emergencies.
Expected Santa Rosa Landlord Responsibilities
The landlord is responsible for providing a safe, habitable home to tenants. This means you need to respond immediately to any emergency maintenance issues. If the water heater bursts in the middle of the night and causes a flood, you need to be there with a plumber right away. If a sewer line ruptures, you need to take immediate action.
Any loss of hot water, heat, or air conditioning constitutes an emergency, and these are your things to respond to and pay to fix.
Landlords are also responsible for the normal wear and tear that a property incurs during a tenancy. Those small nail holes in the walls and the scuff marks on the carpet are going to be your responsibility at the end of a lease term.
Expected Santa Rosa Tenant Responsibilities
Tenants are generally responsible for maintaining the home in a clean and sanitary condition. They should also be expected to maintain the yard and lawn in a single-family home. However, you never know how interested or capable the tenants will be when it comes to landscaping. We always recommend that you hire a lawn service, and then add that cost to the rent. You won’t have to worry about the exterior being maintained, and the tenants will still meet their responsibilities by paying for the service.
Be smart when it comes to tenant responsibilities. Requiring them to change the air filters every month is reasonable, and they should be expected to do that. They can also change their own light bulbs and defrost a freezer if it becomes necessary. However, you don’t necessarily want them on a ladder, cleaning out the gutters of your property, even if you think it’s their responsibility.
Tenants are also responsible for reporting any maintenance needs right away. If a problem occurs because a tenant didn’t tell you about a leaking sink or a window that wouldn’t lock, you can hold them accountable for that neglect.
At the end of the lease, tenants will be responsible for any damage left behind that goes beyond normal wear and tear. Take good pictures so you can document the damage before charging the security deposit.
This is a brief overview of what landlords and tenants are responsible for, and we’d be happy to provide extra details that are specific to your Santa Rosa rental property. Please contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.