Your Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities Explained - Before, During, and After a Tenant Occupies the Property

    Seeff explains a landlord’s responsibilities concerning property maintenance. 

    Did you know that 89% of landlords cover the cost of property repairs? (  

    As a landlord, you want to avoid an ugly confrontation with your tenants over a misunderstanding or disagreement. That’s why it’s crucial to make everything clear in writing before the tenant moves into your property. That way, both parties are fully aware of their responsibilities. 

    Share This Post


    When it comes to property maintenance, this is often a grey area. Is the broken toaster a landlord’s responsibility to repair? What about the peeling paint in the bathroom? If you, as the landlord, receive a call from a disgruntled tenant about a leaky faucet, is it your job - and at your cost - to fix it?

    Winter is the perfect time for landlords to consider their property maintenance. Read on for Seeff’s guide to a landlord’s maintenance responsibilities. 

    Why Should a Landlord Care About Property Maintenance?

    Every landlord should care about maintaining their rental property - a.k.a, their property investment. You might not be living in it yourself, but it’s still a source of income and needs to attract - and retain - quality tenants to reap a profit. 

    Here are three reasons why a landlord should care about maintaining their rental property: 

    • A well-maintained property gives an excellent first impression to prospective tenants. If your rental property is falling apart on the outside, with peeling paint and an unkempt garden, it will be harder to get tenants interested in the house.  
    • Property maintenance can increase your property’s value. If your property is sparkling clean, you’ve made repairs, and the house is overall in top-notch condition, you will likely be able to charge a higher rent.  
    • Regularly maintaining your rental property minimises the impact of potential damages. If you catch a problem early, you can fix it before it becomes a bigger problem and costs you more money. 

    What Are a Landlord’s Maintenance Responsibilities Before a Tenant Moves Into the Property?

    Before a tenant moves into your rental property, the property must be fit for residence. As the landlord, this is your responsibility. You need to ensure that the property’s structural integrity is sound and conduct a thorough inspection of the house

    Landlord, here are five common questions to ask yourself before a tenant moves into your property:

    • Is your geyser working? 
    • Are electrical systems working?
    • Is the property alarm/security system working? 
    • Is all the plumbing in order? 
    • Is the house clean? A thorough clean goes beyond simply dusting and vacuuming. Does the house provide sufficient ventilation, and is the building kept dry? Is the property pest-free? You don’t want to expose your tenants to anything that could cause them harm or make them sick.  

    What Are a Landlord’s Maintenance Responsibilities During a Tenant’s Stay in the Property?

    Once a tenant has moved into your property, things can get awkward if maintenance issues arise. Knowing what repairs you’re obligated to pay for can be challenging. The vital thing to note is that a landlord’s maintenance responsibilities primarily concern any damages and repairs that are not the result of a tenant’s negligence or natural causes. 

    However, there is no one-size-fits-all rule, so clarifying responsibilities in the lease agreement is essential. Your local property practitioner can advise, too.  

    Here are a few maintenance tasks a landlord is generally responsible for: 

    • Damp/mould. 
    • Plumbing.
    • Electrical wiring problems. 
    • Any damage resulting from external forces (i.e. wind, rain). 
    • Replacing or fixing items that are damaged from general wear and tear. Merriam-Webster defines wear and tear as: “the loss, injury, or stress to which something is subjected by or in the course of use, especially: normal depreciation.” 

    For example, torn curtains or a cracked countertop are not fair wear and tear, whereas a faded patio cushion or leaky faucet both are - and thus fall under the landlord’s responsibility to repair/replace.  

    What Are A Landlord’s Maintenance Responsibilities When It Is Time For The Tenant To Vacate The Property?

    Just before the tenant vacates your property, it is time for the outgoing inspection of the property. A tenant, landlord, and property practitioner will carry this out together.

    Before a new tenant moves in, consider the following:

    • Deep-cleaning the house. Hiring professional cleaners to take care of this task might be wise.
    • Tidying the garden and cleaning the pool (if applicable). 
    • Repairing any damages that have resulted from general wear and tear. If, however, the tenant has damaged any appliance or aspect of the home that would otherwise not require repairs, they are liable for this. 

    For example, if your tenant accidentally drops and breaks a glass, they are financially responsible for this damage. It will not be the landlord’s responsibility. 

    old couple performing maintenance tasks on their property

    Do you still have pressing questions about a landlord’s responsibilities? Have a look at Seeff’s complete breakdown of a landlord’s responsibilities in South Africa. If you are preparing your home for renting, read Seeff’s blog on home maintenance tips.

    Author: Seeff Property Group
    Related Articles
    Home is our story logo