What Are The Tenant Responsibilities And Obligations When Renting A House?

  • By: Peter Parker
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Just like the landlord has the responsibility to provide a habitable space to the tenants, remove any hazards that may affect the living of the tenants, and ensure the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the home, a tenant also has some responsibilities while living in a rented home. 

Some of the tenant responsibilities are outlined in the rental lease, while some are understood to be a part of the landlord-tenant relationship.

Generally, tenant responsibilities involve taking good care of the rented home, being a good neighbor, and adhering to all the terms mentioned in the lease document. 

Before renting an apartment or a house, you have to be aware of your responsibilities and rights as a tenant. This will help you to maintain a good relationship with the landlord and be out of legal trouble.  

What are the major tenant rights and responsibilities?

The lease document clearly spells out the rights and obligations of a tenant.

It is advisable to go through the fine print of the rental agreement to get a grasp of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

The tenant responsibilities covered in the lease document include

  • Amount of rent to be paid
  • The length of the rent term
  • The length of the lease period 
  • Procedures to pay the rent
  • Security deposit details
  • Penalties to be levied in case of late payment or non-payment of rent
  • Grace period available for the payment of rent, if any
  • The notice period for breaking the lease early
  • Move-out requirements
  • The responsibilities of the tenant for repairs and maintenance of the property

The tenant has to fulfill all the responsibilities, in the way they are mentioned in the lease document.

For example, you have to pay the agreed amount of rent within the date mentioned in the rental lease. You must also pay the rent in the procedure mentioned by the landlord. 

If you are not comfortable with any terms on the lease document, you have the right to discuss it with the landlord and make necessary changes.

The landlord has the right to evict you from the property if you do not fulfill the responsibilities mentioned in the lease document. 

Apart from the responsibilities mentioned in the lease, The federal and state laws outline some responsibilities of the tenant.

Though these laws vary from state to state, there are some common responsibilities of the tenant applicable everywhere. These tenant responsibilities include

Adhering to the building and housing codes

One of the key tenant responsibilities includes abiding by the local building and housing codes applicable to the tenants. These codes are generally related to the safety and sanitation of the premises.

For example, if you have rented a house for two people, you cannot sneak in additional members to live with you. In the same way, if there is a no pet policy, you must not keep a pet in hiding. 

Ensuring the house is safe and clean

Tenants must ensure that the house is safe and clean.

You have to make sure that there are no safety hazards such as blocked fire exits, fire alarms, and other safety equipment in working condition, and there are no other safety or health hazards in the unit. 

Maintaining Hygienic surroundings

Tenants should always strive to keep their house and the surroundings hygienic and sanitized. They should not allow the accumulation of trash, debris, and garbage on the premises.

All trash must be disposed of responsibly according to the regulations of the neighborhood. 

Using plumbing and electrical fixtures properly

Tenants must use all the plumbing and electrical fixtures such as the showers, toilets, switches, heating/cooling systems, etc. properly and responsibly.

You must keep all the fixtures in working condition and operate them according to the intended use. 

Maintain the appliances in good condition

Tenants have the responsibility to ensure that all the appliances provided in the unit are maintained properly.

You should take proper care of the appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, etc. provided by the landlord. You should use them responsibly and clean them regularly. 

Ensuring the house is not damaged

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure the safe use of the property. You should not allow kids, guests, or pets to damage the property or the fixtures and appliances inside it.

Though normal wear and tear of a property are acceptable, you should not deliberately damage or destroy the property through negligence or by intention. 

Repair and maintenance responsibilities

Though it is the landlord’s responsibility to complete repairs and maintenance issues that affect the habitability of the property, the tenants are also equally responsible to ensure that the house is well-maintained.

If the repairs occur due to your negligence or inability to use the appliances in a proper way, you cannot demand the landlord pay for the repairs.

It is also your responsibility to inform the landlord promptly if any condition that may affect the habitability of the property arises. 

Respecting the right to quiet enjoyment of your neighbors

Just like you have the right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment, your neighbors also have the same right. You must ensure that your activities do not disrupt the peace of others in the neighborhood. 

For example, you should not start a home business in a residential zone without proper permission from the landlord, HOA, and zoning authorities.

In the same way, you should not play loud music during the silent hours or allow your children to be unruly and disrespect others’ right to peaceful surroundings. 

Take care of the garden and yard maintenance

Though the landlords do not expect their tenants to do landscaping or get new plants for the garden, it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden or yard. 

The lease document will clearly state the tenant’s responsibilities for garden maintenance, but generally, you are expected to take care of the regular maintenance like trimming, watering, raking the leaves, and mowing the lawn. 

Tenant responsibilities when moving out

It is crucial to hand over the property to the landlord in the same condition you received it. Some of the tenant responsibilities when moving out include:

  • You have to give sufficient notice as mentioned in the lease document, before moving out of the property. Even if the lease expires, you have to notify the landlord about your intention to not renew the lease. 
  • You have to thoroughly clean the house, and fix damages such as holes in walls, dents, scratches, broken windows, etc.
  • Pay all the service and utility bills
  • Ensure there is no outstanding rent or other charges
  •  Remove all your personal items from the property
  • Empty the trash cans 

Any failure on your part to fulfill these obligations may result in you losing a part or full amount of your security deposit and may affect your reputation and history. 

It is very important to know your responsibilities as a tenant before renting a property and making it your home.

Most of the tenant responsibilities pertain to keeping the unit in clean and working condition, maintaining the peace of the neighborhood, and ensuring there is no damage to the property.

Knowing all your responsibilities will help you to develop a good relationship with the landlord and keep you out of legal trouble.