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Tenant vs. Landlord Responsibilities for Rental Utilities and Maintenance | Explained by Indianapolis Property Managers

System - Friday, July 23, 2021

Tenant vs. Landlord Responsibilities for Rental Utilities and Maintenance - article banner

Your main job as an Indianapolis landlord is to provide a safe, habitable, and pleasant home for the tenants who are paying to rent it. Those tenants are responsible for paying rent, keeping the property in good shape, and communicating with you when maintenance is required.

What about utilities? What about air filters? Who takes care of replacing the refrigerator light when it burns out?

There are still a lot of responsibilities that can go either way or can be shared. The best way to address those are with your lease agreement.

Create a Strong and Specific Indianapolis Lease Agreement

Your lease agreement should address which party is responsible for every imaginable maintenance item or utility payment. Be specific.

Typically, single-family home renters are expected to set up their own utility accounts. In multi-family properties, landlords sometimes want to pay for the utilities themselves and then bill the cost back to the tenants either on a usage basis or as a flat fee. Sometimes, utilities are included in the rental amount and then the rental value is higher than in a property where tenants are responsible for their own utilities.

Whatever you decide, make sure it’s clearly stated in the lease.

The same attention to detail is required with maintenance. You can decide that you don’t want your tenants to even change the air filters, giving you an opportunity to get into the property every few months to change those filters yourself and take a quick look around. Or, you can tell your tenants that they should replace the air filters every three months.

If it’s spelled out in the lease, there should be no confusion about who should be doing what.

Communicate Expectations to Tenants

The lease agreement is where all this information is stored. However, most tenants don’t commit their lease to memory and it can be difficult to read through pages and pages in search of one piece of information they need.

Talk to your residents. When you’re signing the lease and preparing for move-in, reinforce those areas of the lease agreement that address utilities and maintenance. Ask to see proof that utility accounts have been set up before the move-in date. Talk about landscaping and lawn care and whether the tenants have any responsibilities there. Discuss whether you want your tenants to change light bulbs and air filters. When you have a conversation and your tenants have the opportunity to ask questions, the information is consistent and clear.

Indianapolis Property Management Can Help

If you’re not sure who should be mowing the lawn and you don’t have the time to bill your tenants for the utilities they use even while you are paying the bills, seek help from an Indianapolis property management company. Professional property managers have systems in place already that address maintenance responsibilities, utility payments, and other details such as rent collection and pet policies. It’s a great way to maintain consistency and enforcement when you’re renting out a home but unsure about best practices.

Property managementWe can help. Please contact us at Red Door Property Management if you need any assistance renting out your Indianapolis property.