Tenants are people and Landlords are too
6 Hot Topics to Clarify for Landlords and Tenants Alike
We have all heard the stories about landlords that don’t care about their tenants and tenants that just want to take advantage of their landlords. For the sake of this article, let’s assume your landlord or tenant is neither of these types, that each person in this hypothetical Landlord-Tenant relationship is willing to work together to make things copesetic and easy.
At Oak City Properties, we realize there will always be exceptions to the rule, but for the most part Landlords and Tenants are just normal human beings trying to make it through life like everyone else. So let’s discuss a few items and try to set some expectations or at least set the record straight.
1. Clean and livable space
“Move-in Day” is the time when the landlord gives up possession of the property to the tenant in exchange for rent, and the tenant takes on the responsibility of the lease and the terms therein. Before the tenant has moved into the rental property, there have been a series of events that have taken place to get the home ready for the new tenant. Some may have been requested in the application, but most are generally referred to as common sense or courtesy items. Common sense/courtesy items like:
- A landlord is expected to provide a clean property to the tenant upon “Move-in Day.”
- Appliances should all be in good working order, clean, and functioning properly.
- Landscaping should be completed and the exterior of the home should look presentable. The tenant should keep the exterior maintained and return the rental in the same condition at the end of the lease.
- Pest Control should be performed, if necessary, no one wants to move into a property full of bugs
- The owner’s personal items should be removed prior to a new tenant moving in, however, it isn’t illegal to store some items in the home as long as they do not disrupt the normal usage of the home. For example: extra paint, lawn equipment or tools, storage boxes if left in a large attic or area not impeding the storage area of the tenant. Again, we should defer to common sense and courtesy here and get the terms in writing or at least discussed prior to the lease starting. This goes for both landlords and tenants; remember, everyone needs to get along and do what is best for all parties involved.
Painting is probably the most controversial of all items when it comes to “Move-in Day” and creating a favorable relationship between tenant and landlord. In North Carolina, it is not a requirement (by law) to have the carpets replaced, and all walls and ceilings completely repainted. In fact, we don’t really know where this myth began. The owner of the property should provide clean walls and clean carpets in each property but is not required to provide a full paint re-do and brand new floors installed between every tenant. As a landlord, the only way to avoid an issue is to be specific during your application process before signing the lease. As a tenant, if your expectation is to have the property fully painted, you need to address that as well.
It is important to know that most landlords will perform touch up painting before moving in, but areas such as closets and laundry (areas that tend to have more scuffs and scratches due to normal use) will not be painted.
Let’s face it, no one likes repairs…landlords, tenants or Property Managers. Landlords do not like things breaking or the bills that come with them. Tenants don’t like the inconvenience of having to go without while the system or appliance is down. Property Managers definitely don’t like them, because no one on any side is happy about them and that makes things tricky. However, repairs are inevitable, and at some point a system or appliance is going to break down.
We live in a world where immediacy is an expectation but some repairs are going to take time. Here are a few things to remember when dealing with repairs:
- Tenants- Most repairs, whether it be minor or major, should be addressed in 24-48 hours. However, addressed does not always mean fixed. Some items are repairable, and some require either replacement or a part that needs to be ordered. Be patient and try to remember that the landlord is trying to fix the problem to be the best of his/her ability.
- Landlord- Make sure to take care of the repair as quickly and efficiently as possible. Communicate with the tenant and make sure to keep those lines open to address any concerns. No one likes when their life is changed, and inconveniences arise, a tenant is no different.
Ultimately, the goal is to recognize the difference between being neglected, which is never acceptable, and just the time and processes to fix a broken item. If you have submitted a repair request and don’t hear anything from anyone in a week, you have every right to be upset….but if a part needs to be ordered and everyone is clearly working on it, getting upset and making accusations will not help the situation. Again, no one is making light of the inconvenience, but most landlords and property managers are people too and want the same result as you.
4. Right of Entry
In exchange for rent, the tenant receives the right to privacy, and this means that NO landlord should ever just stop by unannounced. As an owner, it is your property, but you did give up some of your rights when you signed a lease and accepted payments for rent.
The right way to handle these situations is to give at least 24 hours notice to your tenant or as much time as possible. With that, tenants, please note that most landlords don’t want to bother you. Most of the time there is a good reason to check on the property or need access. Some of the most common reasons are annual HVAC service or Termite services, etc. Some mortgage companies or HOA’s will fine an owner if these items aren’t taken care of annually. So when you get a notification from your landlord or property manager requesting access, please don’t just assume it is to spy on you. Let’s all work together and just get it over with.
5. Rent payment
No landlord or property manager rents a property to someone with the goal of evicting them. This idea then leads to two main points to discuss:
- A tenant can not withhold rent payment because of perceived inconveniences. Just because the microwave broke, (FYI, a microwave breaking is not essential to the habitability of the house), doesn’t give you the right to not pay rent that month. Per the law, even if a landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs in a timely fashion, you must still pay the rent and take them to court to get the money back.
- A life-changing event doesn’t give you the right not to pay your rent. It also doesn’t make the owner morally obligated to let you not pay the rent without consequence. Most, if not all, homeowners and property managers will seek to work out a mutually beneficial outcome for all sides if everyone is upfront from the beginning. Do the right thing, be upfront, be honest and everyone will work together for a positive outcome.
6. Security Deposits
Security deposits and how they are used is spelled out in the North Carolina Tenant Security Deposit Act. It is very clear in most areas, but the “Act” does have some areas that can be confusing.
For example: cleaning a home between tenants is a landlord responsibility. However, if you leave the home with items in the fridge, cabinets and don’t sweep or vacuum the owner could charge you for excessive cleaning. This also goes for landscaping and other damages such as holes in the walls, etc. If you aren’t leaving the home as you found it, less normal wear and tear, then you could have a portion or all of your security deposit withheld. The only remedy at that point is to settle either in court or out of court. Wouldn’t it just be easier to leave the home the way you found it?
In the end, we all want the same thing. The landlord (Property Managers) and the tenant want to have the home taken care of and in good working order. Both want the transaction to be smooth and easy and when issues arise, everyone needs to remember that tenants are people and landlords are too. The best advice that we can give you at Oak City Properties is to step back, breathe and allow the problem to be worked out through open lines of communication and doing what is best for all those involved.