When you own a rental property in Austin, you’re responsible for that because it’s your investment and you want to make sure it’s well-maintained and functioning. While the property belongs to you, it’s still your tenant’s home. How do you balance your own responsibilities against those of your tenant?
The most important thing you can do is communicate who is responsible for what. Be consistent and fair when you’re deciding what you should take care of as a landlord and what you should expect your tenants to be responsible for when they move into the property.
Typical Austin Landlord Responsibilities
Your main job as a landlord is to provide a property that is safe, habitable, and well-maintained. If you aren’t already familiar with the Texas Property Code, you need to review it. There are specific provisions for what you have to do and provide as a landlord.
Before a tenant moves in, you must make sure everything works. You also need to re-key the property. Repair and replace anything that isn’t working, and turn over a clean home that’s free of any maintenance concerns.
During the tenancy, landlords are required to maintain the home and everything inside of it. If there’s an issue with the hot water or the heat, a landlord must fix it. When the washer stops working or the toilet starts running, the landlord is required to respond. Take care of these problems immediately. If you don’t repair the problem right away, your tenants could file a complaint.
Typical Austin Tenant Responsibilities
Tenants are required to pay rent on time, honor the lease agreement, and take care of minor issues around the home while they are living there. In Texas, you can expect your tenants to do routine maintenance items like changing air filters and light bulbs. Some landlords will require their tenants to take care of the landscaping or lawn care or keep up with the maintenance of pools and hot tubs. It might be better to hire professionals for these tasks. You can include the cost in what you charge for rent.
Your tenants are responsible for any damage that they cause or their guests cause. Property damage can be an accident, but even if it’s an accident, it’s the tenant’s responsibility. Something might break due to neglect or abuse. If a tenant’s child was using the dishwasher door as a trampoline and it breaks, that’s the tenant’s expense to incur.
Documenting the condition of your home is extremely important so you can easily identify damage at the end of a lease period.
Address Responsibilities in Your Lease Agreement
Lease agreements are designed to protect your rights and those of your tenants. This is the best place to keep a list of your responsibilities and your tenant’s responsibilities. It will make it easy for the tenants to refer to the conditions in the lease agreement when they’re wondering who is responsible for mowing the lawn or maintaining the roof. Your lease agreement must stipulate who is responsible for utilities and whether there are any pool or landscaping responsibilities that land with the tenant. If you hire professional services for things like pools, landscaping, and pest control, the lease should also reference that.