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What You Are and Aren’t Responsible for as a Renter

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What You Are and Aren’t Responsible for as a Renter
4 min. read

Image: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

Renting is a great way to enjoy your own space without making the considerable financial commitment of buying a home. However, it does come with certain restrictions, which vary depending on the landlord and which part of the country you’re in.  

It can be difficult to know exactly what you are and what you’re not answerable for when renting. While each rental is different, there are numerous responsibilities that are more or less universal. Let’s take a look below.

What You Are Responsible For

Paying the Rent

Your main responsibility as a renter is to pay the rent on time. Not doing so can lead to late payment penalties or even eviction. The rights of landlords are protected and they can charge up to 1% of the rent per month in late fees. If rent isn’t paid within 15 days, landlords can give you a Notice to Quit, and if after 15 days of receiving the notice it still hasn’t been paid, you might be forced to vacate the premises.

Keeping it Clean

It’s your responsibility to keep the rental unit clean and the appliances maintained. Penalties can be given if you do not keep the unit in a condition that is safe to inhabit. If you damage any appliances or cause damage to the unit itself, it’s also your responsibility to repair it.

Subletting Your Unit

In most rentals, you’re able to sublet your unit if you plan to go away for a period of time. You will need to get permission from the landlord to do so, and they may charge up to $75 to evaluate potential candidates.

Utilities

In some cases, renters are responsible for paying the utility bills. They may also be responsible for having certain services installed, such as internet connections or tv services. It’s generally down to the landlord to ensure that there is fuel to heat the unit, but it’s often the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that the property is heated to a temperature that is safe and will prevent damage to the property, generally around 20-22 °C.

Following Rules

If the landlord has set out rules in advance, they should be presented to you in writing. Upon signing the lease, you’re obliged to follow them. For example, if they stipulate that the unit is non-smoking or not pet-friendly, you cannot smoke in it, or have pets. Noise restrictions and any quiet times will also typically be detailed within the rules.

Contacting the Landlord

It’s the renter’s responsibility to contact the landlord as soon as an emergency or serious problem with the unit arises. If repairs are required or appliances need servicing, the renter is obliged to contact the landlord and let them know so that they can take care of it.

What You Aren’t Responsible For

The joy of renting is that it comes with far fewer responsibilities than owning. Typically, the landlord is responsible for most of the larger tasks associated with owning a property.

Unit Repairs

Any damage that is done to your unit, inside or out, is up to the landlord to repair. The exception is if the damage was caused by you or your guests. General wear and tear, weather damage or other incidents must all be fixed by your landlord. If they’re not making essential repairs, it’s worth getting in touch directly with them, in writing. If this doesn’t help, take it up a level and contact your local municipal government.

General Maintenance

In a similar vein, general maintenance of the appliances and the unit itself is the landlord’s responsibility to take care of. They are in charge of ensuring that HVAC systems are regularly serviced, and must make upgrades if any appliances are not working. Furthermore, if plumbing or electrical sockets and switches are deemed unsafe or unusable by building inspectors, they must be fixed.

Common Areas

You’re typically not obliged to keep common areas such as lobbies, elevators, or yards clean or maintained. Again, this is down to the landlord to take care of. However, if you’re renting a home, it’s worth checking exactly what you’re expected to maintain in terms of yards and other outdoor spaces.

 

The joy of renting is that it comes with far fewer responsibilities than owning a property. Typically, the landlord is responsible for most of the larger tasks associated with owning a property. As a renter, you’re typically responsible for ensuring that your unit is kept clean and free from damage and for paying the rent.

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