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Requirements of a Landlord

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Responsivilities of a landlordSeveral Months ago a young man came into our office looking for a new rental. He said the place he was renting had given him a rash and bed bugs were found in the mattress and room. After he told the Landlord he was given an alcohol spray bottle. This is an inadequate move as a Property Manager as It is our responsibility to provide a clean and habitable place as a dwelling. In New Hampshire (and every other state) we have the Law of Warranty of Habitability. This means the Landlord/Owner/Property Manager must provide the following:

  • keep basic structural elements of the building, including floors, stairs, walls, and roofs, safe and intact
  • maintain all common areas, such as hallways and stairways, in a safe and clean condition
  • keep electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems and elevators operating safely
  • supply cold and hot water and heat in reasonable amounts at reasonable times
  • provide trash receptacles and arrange for trash pick-up
  • manage known environmental hazards such as lead paint dust and asbestos so that they don’t pose a significant danger
  • in most states, provide rental property that is reasonably safe from the threat of foreseeable criminal intrusions, and
  • exterminate infestations of rodents and other vermin.In virtually every state, these rights are yours, no matter what the landlord has asked you to sign or agree to. In other words, the landlord cannot shrug off these responsibilities in a “disclaimer” when the tenancy begins. And your landlord can’t effectively ask you to waive your right to them. (Any so-called waiver will not be upheld by a court.)

Now…did you see anything about mites and bugs? I didn’t either. It’s a grey area. Legally a Property Manager doesn’t have to take care of the issue, but morally and ethically something needs to be done ASAP. So what is the solution? Be a decent human being, communicate properly, and problem solve. If the tenant wants to move out let them. Dispose of the mattress and buy a new one or take it out of the deposit. Don’t let other people or your tenants suffer. Even though I took a hit in rental income and profit last month, I can sleep well at night knowing I did the right thing and can recoup to prevent something like that from happening again.

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