Are you planning on investing in a multi-family property in 2020? If so, purchasing that property is only the first step as a landlord because, if you plan on managing the property yourself, you’re going to have a wide variety of landlord responsibilities or “expectations” that you must fulfill in the eyes of your tenants, and the law.
In his article, we will provide you with the most up-to-date list of landlord responsibilities in 2020.
What Exactly Is A Landlord Responsibility?
As the owner of the multifamily property, your responsibility or obligation to your tenants begins with complying with the “Warranty of Habitability”. This means that your property is considered to be clean, safe, and in a “livable” condition.
Besides complying with the warranty of habitability, as a landlord, you are also responsible for ensuring that all the financials regarding the property are professionally managed including paying taxes, maintenance, and utilities.
Another thing that you have to be concerned about as a landlord is ensuring that your multifamily property is in compliance with all Federal and State laws. You also want to verify that your property is in compliance with local ordinances as well.
Stay Up To Date With All Safety Codes
Besides the warranty of habitability, another responsibility as a landlord that you have to ensure you are in compliance is the safety codes for your city or state.
Thankfully, you can utilize the internet to research the latest safety codes to ensure that your investment property is in full compliance or if there are safety codes that you have to get in compliance with.
Lead Paint Disclosure
The lead-based paint disclosure form is a required form to be issued to all tenants and potential buyers for residential properties built before 1978. The forms are written to warn any new owners or tenants of the potential existence of this within the interior walls of the residence.
After making every effort to make sure that your investment property is a safe place to live and complies with all of the State, Federal, and local ordinances, your next step is to take care of mold immediately when it occurs.
What exactly is mold or mildew? It’s a fungal growth that develops on wet materials. Mold is a natural part of the environment and plays an important part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees; indoors, mold growth should be avoided.
To get rid of mold, you can either clean it up yourself or hire an outside contractor to clean the rental property then thoroughly remove and replace any drywall or flooring where the mold may have spread.
Once the property is thoroughly cleaned of mold, and the problem has been remediated, the next step is to fix the condition which caused mold to grow in the first place so that the problem does not reoccur.
Meet Occupancy Standards
Another important responsibility that you have is to meet the occupancy standards for the city or state where your investment property is located.
What exactly are occupancy standards? In the state of New York, for example, their occupancy standards state that a rental property must offer 70 square feet per occupant in a bedroom.
During the process of working hard to make sure that the units in your multifamily property are in compliance with all State and Federal occupancy standards, the next responsibility to your tenants is that you’re careful not to potentially discriminate against a family based upon their familial status.
This means that if a large family applies for a smaller rental unit, you cannot discriminate against them based on the size of their family. You can, however, fall back on what the local occupancy standards are for that property and base your decision upon the maximum tenancy allowed for your rental.
Your Rental Must-Have Carbon Monoxide And Smoke Detectors
Another landlord’s responsibility to your tenants that you have to be in compliance is to make sure that your investment property has carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Since the rules regarding carbon monoxide and smoke detectors vary from state-to-state it’s important to take the time to research those rules before purchasing new detectors for your investment property
Common Areas Must Be Clean And Safe
If you own a large multi-family investment property, another responsibility that you have to follow is making sure that all the common areas in your property are clean and safe.
Common areas are defined as laundry rooms, hallways, garages, elevators, workout rooms, meeting areas in any other area were your tenants may hang out when they are not inside of their rental properties.
Keeping the common areas clean and safe should include cleaning these areas on a regular basis, replacing light bulbs when they are worn out, installing proper handrails on stairwells and replacing locks when needed.
Installing Window Guards
If you’re planning on renting to a tenant who has a child under the age of 10 years old, and they are going to be living in a unit that is on an upper floor of your investment property, the next responsibility that you have to fulfill as landlord is to install a window guard if you’re asked to do so by your tenant.
Window guards are metal or aluminum devices that are specifically designed to prevent children from falling. Window guards should be in every window in the apartment and in common areas, except for windows leading to fire escapes.
Complying With Snow Removal And “Weather Laws” In Your State
If your multi-family investment properties are located along the east coast, especially in a city like Buffalo New York, you know that the city can receive a large amount of snowfall each winter.
When the snow arrives, it’s the landlord’s responsibility as well as the tenants to make sure that the sidewalk in front of the rental property is clear of snow and ice.
Doing this will help to ensure that the rental property is also in compliance with state and local laws plus focusing on snow removal is also going to make sure that nobody can slip and fall on the sidewalk in front of the rental property during the winter.
The laws regarding snow removal often vary from state to state so it’s best to take the time to fully research those laws after purchasing a new rental property just to make sure that you are in full compliance.
Keep Your Multifamily Rental Property In Great Shape
If your goal as a landlord is to keep your rental property producing cash flow for you for years to come, the next responsibility that you have to your tenants is to keep a rental property in great shape. This means that you’re doing everything that you can to protect your investment including making repairs to the rental property when needed so that minor repairs do not turn into major repairs which could cost you more money in the long run.
Besides taking care of repairs, you should also verify that every aspect regarding maintenance is taken care of in a timely manner on a regular basis. This means that the exterior maintenance of the property is cared for including the landscaping, or any outdoor furniture that you may have outside of the property.
You should also hire a local trash company so that you can have a dumpster on-site and have the trash scheduled to be picked up on a weekly basis.
Your Responsibility To Pay Your Mortgage
This responsibility may seem irrelevant to some landlords but, it’s definitely worth mentioning because every your landlords decide to let their mortgage payments slide and if their investment properties fall into foreclosure, the tenants are the ones who have to pay.
Besides not missing a mortgage payment for the sake of your tenants, another important reason to not miss a mortgage payment is you’re likely to start incurring late fees.
What’s even worse is that if you are more than 60 days late on a mortgage payment, that late payment will be reported to the credit bureaus and it will also adversely affect your credit rating so it’s always important to pay your mortgages on time and avoid paying late whenever possible.
Maintaining Your Insurance
Yes, it’s true that you do have a lot of responsibilities as a landlord when you own a multi-family investment property but the reality is that the investment is totally worth it especially when you consider the cash flow and wealth that you will be able to build as a landlord.
We’ve offered you a lot of responsibilities that you have to consider as a landlord so far in this article but another important one to mention is your responsibility to maintain your insurance. This means that you have active insurance policies covering your rental property so that your best interests are protected should fire, flood, or something else damage your property.
There’s no doubt that keeping active insurance policies is important but another form of insurance that you may want to consider adding is an umbrella policy. This policy will provide you with an additional layer of insurance protection.
Besides making the effort to maintain your insurance policies, you should also take the time to verify that each tenant who lives in your multifamily property also maintain an active renters insurance policy as well.
Unless you have an arrangement with your tenants for them to pay all or some of the utilities, it’s your job to ensure that all these utilities for your rental property will be covered on a monthly basis. This means that you’re going to be responsible for paying the water, sewer, trash, and electricity.
The good news is that you may be able to set up landlord utility accounts with the companies that provide electricity, water, or sewer services for your investment property. In some cases, the utility company may be able to offer you special connection services which will help you to easily turn on utilities or turn them off and put the utilities back into your name when one of your tenants move out.
Complying With State And Federal Laws
Last of all, but most important, another landlord’s responsibilities that you have to be whereas is that you also must be in compliance with all federal and state housing laws including the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Housing Act. Both of these laws were created to regulate tenant transactions and ensure that there is a policy of fairness & accuracy anytime a landlord rents to a new tenant so it’s best to make sure that either yourself or your team is always in full compliance with laws like the fair housing act before renting to new tenants.
Consider Hiring A Property Manager
If the thought of following through with all the landlord responsibilities listed in this article has your head spinning, the good news is that the task of owning investment properties gets a lot easier when you hire a property management company.
A property manager will save you the time, money and hassle of managing your investment property yourself while ensuring that every aspect of your rental property from start to finish is in full compliance with all of the state and federal laws which we’ve mentioned in this article.
For tips on hiring a property management company, click here or scroll through our blog to read some of the previous articles which we wrote on the subject.
Even though it may seem like you have a lot of laws to be in compliance with as a landlord, the reality is that making sure that you are fulfilling all of your responsibilities may only take a few hours of your time per year.
If you’re the type of investor he doesn’t like the thought of having to fill all the responsibilities to your tenants yourself, it’s best to consider hiring a property management company because taking responsibility of management off your shoulders will provide you with the freedom the focus on growing your portfolio of investment properties and making more money in the years to come.