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What Makes a Rental Property Habitable?

Whether we rent or own, we all deserve a safe and clean space to live or work in because this has an impact on our everyday life.

In most jurisdictions, there’s such a thing called Implied Warranty of Habitability. It means, even if your landlord did not promise to give you a livable space, you are entitled to it.

Additional clauses are there depending on the state. But in general, this warranty requires landlords to maintain the structure, plumbing and electrical system in good working condition, to repair promptly, to keep the property free from health hazards, and to comply with housing or building codes.

The tenant must pay the rent and the landlord’s duty is to make his property habitable. The tenant should inform the landlord of any condition that makes the property unsafe or unhealthy and the landlord should take actionable steps. So it’s best to always check on the property’s condition from time to time to prevent this from happening.

But what makes rental properties habitable?

Before renting out your property, make sure you have checked it thoroughly to lessen future complaints. Wear and tear due to constant use is normal but make sure that you hand over a fresh property to a new tenant.

Here are the basics that you should keep in mind for a livable property:

1. Pest-free

No one wants to live in a place with a rodent infestation. No to roaches and bugs, too. Hire an exterminator to do the job for you, so you’re sure that your property is free from pests before turning it over.

2. Strong structure

Here’s something you should not miss. The roof should keep unwanted elements out, so your tenants are safe from rain or snow or extreme sunlight and even from the wild. The walls, ceilings, and stairs should also be sturdy and are not in danger of collapsing anytime. After all, your property is supposed to be a shelter to keep them safe. 

3. Good electrical and plumbing system

The electrical sockets, basic light fixtures, and switches should work. This is important as broken wirings are potential fire hazards so make sure these are all in good condition.

Plumbing is another consideration. Have this checked by a plumber to make sure there are no leaks or any pipe that will burst anytime soon.

4. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning

Some municipalities and cities have set minimum temperature requirements for rental units. Ventilation is also important, and while not all rental units have air-conditioning units, if you have it installed one and are ok with tenants using it, you might as well have that working properly. 

5. Keep molds, lead, and asbestos away

A few mold strains are toxic and can cause health hazards among sensitive tenants. They also signify that something needs to be fixed like a leak. Address this before it spreads in the property. 

Lead and asbestos are health hazards that can cause respiratory issues and are often present in old properties. If it can’t be helped, fully disclose if this is present in your unit, but still be ready for any complaints that may arise from it.

6.  Safe

Most states require rental properties to be safe from intrusion. If there are any broken windows, doors or locks, have them fixed right away.

Final Thoughts

There may be instances that the issues are due to poor hygiene or own damage by the tenant, but do try to assist them as much as you can. Not everything is your responsibility.

In some states though, tenants are allowed to move out, withhold rental payment or even sue when the landlord does not comply. A timely response is a good way to keep this from happening. There are governing federal laws and city laws, so it will be best to check with your locality.

If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!