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Tips for maintaining your rental property

As a renter, you’re responsible for regular upkeep of your unit while your landlord is responsible for making structural repairs and fixing any issues that happen beyond your control. But sometimes, it’s hard to know what you have to fix and what your landlord has to repair. At MHA, we want you to be a responsible tenant, and that means keeping up your unit to the best of your ability and communicating with your landlord when problems arise. We provide tips and some guidance on maintaining your property and working with your landlord here. 

Keep your home clean to avoid damage from neglect.
You are responsible for the cleanliness of your home. You’re expected to do regular household chores – wiping off counters, vacuuming, washing the dishes, scrubbing the bathrooms, etc. This responsibility also includes taking the trash out. You can check with your landlord about where you should be disposing your trash or what day trash pick-up is. 

When your home isn’t clean and there is trash in the house, a number of issues can arise. Pests like rats and cockroaches are attracted to food and grime, and they can cause major damage to the house. Not taking care of your bathrooms can cause drains to back up, creating plumbing and sanitation issues. If issues like these come up because you haven’t kept the unit clean, you may be responsible for the cost of the repairs. This is why it’s so important to focus on keeping your unit clean. 

We recommend making a daily or weekly chore list. Some daily habits to adopt could include sweeping or vacuuming at the end of the day, making sure all the dirty dishes are washed and put away, wiping down all the counters and general tidying up by putting everything back in its spot. Weekly items could include dusting and doing the laundry. Having these lists will help keep the chores from piling up. 

Reporting damage that’s beyond your control.
Sometimes, things go wrong in a unit that are out of your control –  like a roof leaking or the heat going out. Your landlord should be making repairs like these and changes that are needed to provide you with a liveable environment according to HQS guidelines. You should ask your landlord about the protocol for reporting damages on the rental property and common areas. 

When trying to decide if a repair is your responsibility or your landlord's, it’s important to check your lease. The tenant and landlord guidelines should be laid out clearly. By law, your landlord is responsible for providing you with certain health standards. These standards include basic facilities and equipment, lights, ventilation, heating and cooling systems and sanitation. If you have an issue in any of these areas, ask your landlord.

When it comes to getting problems solved, communication is key. Talk through the tenant and landlord responsibilities with your landlord to clearly understand the rules. If repairs are needed to your unit that are the responsibility of your landlord, bring them to their attention as soon as you can. If they fail to make the repairs in a responsible amount of time, send them a written request. This can help you keep a written record of repair requests and responses in case further action is needed.

Memphis Housing Authority is here to help you. We can talk you through your tenant responsibilities in your lease, and we can help explain what your landlord is required to do.