There are many important aspects to managing a Kelowna rental property as a property manager or landlord, but one of the most vital parts is rental property maintenance.
Whether that’s doing a spring clean up of the front yard or replacing the lightbulbs in the bathroom, maintaining a property for your tenants is not only important for keeping them happy but also for preserving and improving your property value.
But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, who is responsible for maintenance of a rental property in Kelowna?
Is it you, the landlord, your property manager, or your tenants? This is an age-old question we see a lot at Vantage West, and while there is plenty of nuance to it, we’re here to help answer your biggest rental property maintenance question today.
Keep reading to find out more about maintaining your investment property and who is ultimately responsible for maintaining the property.
Rental Property Maintenance and the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Before we dive into the specifics responsibilities of rental property maintenance, we also need to understand the dynamics between landlords and tenants, and the property managers of your Kelowna rental.
Typically, a landlord owns the Kelowna rental property and leases it to a tenant, with varying lengths and stipulations in the agreement. The lease will outline the specific terms and conditions of the tenancy, which will also include details on who is responsible for rental maintenance.
While not all Kelowna rental agreements are the same, all lease agreements must follow the BC Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline as outlined by the Government of British Columbia.
This is to protect the rights of the tenants, and the landlords, and to help avoid disputes over maintaining a property. However, there is some variance that you and your potential tenants can discuss for your own agreement if needed for the rental.
When in doubt, we recommend reviewing this policy with your Kelowna property manager to ensure you’re following all agreements and regulations for your property.
But in the meantime, here is a simplified list of the maintenance responsibilities for both Landlords and Tenants set out in the Residential Tenancies Act.
Who Is Responsible for Maintenance of a Rental Property: Landlord Property Maintenance Responsibilities in Kelowna & BC
As outlined by the BC Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline in terms of responsibility for residential premises, landlords (And with the help of a property manager) are responsible for “ensuring that rental units and property, or manufactured home sites and parks, meet “health, safety and housing standards” established by law, and are reasonably suitable for occupation given the nature and location of the property.”
As a landlord, your tenancy agreement makes you responsible for ensuring your property is safe and reasonably suitable for a tenant to live in the space – whether for short-term or long-term rentals. Paying these repair costs will help to improve the total property value of your rental units, keep your tenants happy & paying rent on time, and also help you avoid high turnover.
This, of course, can be fairly broad. So, here’s a more detailed list outlining what this might mean in terms of maintaining your rental unit for a tenant in British Columbia, Canada.
1. Structural Maintenance For Kelowna Rentals:
Landlords are generally responsible for the structural integrity and maintenance of the property – whether it’s a house, apartment, or secondary suite. This responsibility applies to the building foundation, roof, walls, and overall building framework, which are directly related to the property’s safety and habitable conditions.
Own a single unit in an apartment building that you’re renting in Kelowna? Some of these responsibilities may be under your building’s strata council and can be a nuanced topic. Contact Vantage West Property Management if you need help understanding who maintains the structure of your property in a Strata-managed apartment building in Kelowna.
2. Maintaining Rental Common Areas:
If you own multiple units with shared spaces, such as a larger property with multiple separate houses or townhomes, or own an apartment building, landlords are responsible for maintaining and making repairs to the common areas.
This includes areas like hallways, staircases, elevators, lobbies, laundry rooms, amenities like pools or gyms, or shared patio spaces. This means both repairing damage and cleaning the property’s common areas and ensuring that it is a safe and suitable space for your tenants that’s free of health hazards like mold or pest infestations.
3. Emergency Repairs & Major Repairs:
If there are major damages requiring repair, you as the landlord are responsible for repairing those damages – so long as they are not due to tenant negligence. Repairs and regular maintenance that fall under this category include vital services like a leaky roof, electrical or plumbing issues, HVAC system malfunctions (heating, ventilation & air conditioning), defective locks, and making sure household appliances that were part of the rental agreement work properly.
This also includes rental property maintenance expenses, such as paying for new appliances if repairs aren’t possible, or hiring a plumber to make sure your tenant gets a good supply of hot or cold water.
If damages are a direct result of tenant negligence, you might not be responsible for the repair, and this may instead fall under your tenant’s responsibility to cover, such as with their damage or security deposit upon signing the lease. If the tenant is directly responsible for the damage, they may be also responsible for rental property maintenance expenses related to repairing or replacing it.
4. Safety and Compliance Maintenance for Rentals:
As directly stated by the BC Policy Guideline for rentals, landlord repair responsibilities include meeting all safety codes and legal requirements to ensure their tenant’s unit is safe and livable.
This includes ensuring things like smoke detectors are functional, fire extinguishers are up to date, or that electrical wiring was installed correctly, among other things to help make sure the rental is a hazard-free environment.
Who Is Responsible for Maintenance of a Rental Property: Tenant Property Maintenance Responsibilities in Kelowna & BC
While you as the landlord are generally responsible for larger repairs and ensuring the safety of the property, tenants are still also responsible for general cleaning and maintaining the property from normal wear and tear to keep the condition of the property as close to when they first moved in as possible, beyond typical wear and tear.
Here is the direct outline of tenant responsibility when it comes to property maintenance from The BC Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline:
“The tenant must maintain “reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards” throughout the rental unit or site, and property or park. The tenant is generally responsible for paying cleaning costs where the property is left at the end of the tenancy in a condition that does not comply with that standard. The tenant is also generally required to pay for repairs where damages are caused, either deliberately or as a result of neglect, by the tenant or his or her guest. The tenant is not responsible for reasonable wear and tear to the rental unit or site (the premises).”
This means that tenants are expected to maintain general health and cleanliness of the property, and are responsible for damages to the property that are deliberately or negligently caused by them.
Again, there are many items that could fall under this, so here’s a quick list to help you better understand what this might mean for you, your Kelowna rental and your tenant:
1. Regular Cleaning of Rental:
Generally speaking, tenants & renters are responsible for routine upkeep and cleaning of the property—specifically the interior. If the property also includes an outdoor space, this is usually the landlord’s responsibility (unless otherwise specified in the rental agreement).
Regular maintenance for tenants includes things like vacuuming, dusting, wiping appliances, and cleaning the bathroom. If there is an outdoor space that is not a shared space, the tenant may be responsible for some general cleaning, but this is up to your agreement.
2. Rental Property Minor Repairs:
Tenants are expected to be responsible for minor repairs, specifically those that result from normal wear and tear. This includes things like changing light bulbs, unclogging drains, painting over scuff marks, or filling holes in the walls from hanging pictures. If a minor rental property repair is needed, this is usually up to the tenant.
However, the tenant may be responsible, as mentioned before, for repairing or replacing other damages to the property if the damage was directly caused by them (such as holes in the wall, broken lights or windows, or damaged floors).
3. Repair Requests & Reporting Issues At The Kelowna Rental Property:
If there are any issues or major repairs needed for a rental, tenants are responsible for promptly reporting any maintenance issues and reports to the landlord or property manager.
This is to help prevent further damage, and to ensure that the property remains safe and habitable for the tenant. Having efficient and timely communication is vital to make sure that issues and repairs are quickly addressed to avoid further problems down the road.
Preventive Maintenance & Care:
To ensure that damage does not occur over time, tenants and landlords should take preventative maintenance measures —
such as fixing or notifying the landlord about a dripping faucet, leaking appliance, or faulty heating system — and ensure that they use all appliances within the rental according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This will save both you and the tenant any headaches down the road from misused appliances or mishandled property.
Have more questions about rental property maintenance? Check out this blog post about 3 common maintenance mistakes, and how you can avoid them with your rental.
Rental Property Maintenance Costs
When it comes to rental maintenance or repairs that need to be done on your property, whether that’s routine maintenance like landscaping or major repairs like fixing a broken toilet, the rental property maintenance costs may land on you as the property owner, or on your tenant if they are found responsible either by the BC Guideline’s or because they caused the damage.
Maintenance costs are an easily forgotten aspect of owning and renting a property, and they can quickly add up, but it is important to be able to meet those maintenance needs to maintain your property’s value, and to continue making rental property income on your investment.
Budgeting out costs for routine maintenance, like landscaping, seasonal maintenance, snow removal or electrical and plumbing checks, or for necessary repairs and maintenance expenses for normal wear and tear that you need to fix as the property owner after a tenant has moved out, will help to ensure you’re well-prepared.
A security deposit from your tenant is not meant to be used for repairs and rental maintenance costs or operating expenses unless it is a direct result of the tenant’s actions. Using your tenant’s security deposit for anything beyond its intended purpose would be a breach of your agreement and you may come under penalty from local laws and provincial laws.
Kelowna Rental Property Maintenance Help With A Property Management Company
Finding a balance between you and the tenant is key to maintaining and improving your rental property value, and ensuring you have happy tenants. With a properly laid out lease agreement, and following BC’s guidelines, rental property maintenance can easily be defined between you, your professional property manager and your tenant or tenants.
Clearly defining these maintenance standards with your tenant will also help down the road if there are any potential issues or disputes that you need to navigate when dealing with maintenance or repair issues.
But even with this clearly defined, there’s still lots to do in order to maintain your Kelowna property. And if you’re renting multiple rental properties, it can quickly become stressful trying to manage the maintenance of every property.
A Kelowna property manager can help you not only communicate with your tenants and help you create your lease agreements, but also help to make sure your properties are being maintained properly, and help you organize expert maintenance work when necessary.
If you can find the right property managers, you won’t even have to worry about keeping track of property maintenance at all and can rely on your property’s manager to reliably maintain them to a high standard.
Don’t have a property manager, or are looking to switch to a new management company that can better help you with your rental property’s needs? Maybe you’re getting lots of applications for your property, but have a high tenant turnover rate and need to find high-quality tenants, and improve tenant retention?
As one of the leading property management companies in Kelowna, Vantage West Property Management has years of experience to help you find high-quality tenants, and keep them. Contact Vantage West today to learn more about our services and how we can help you with rental maintenance, and help you improve your rental income in Kelowna and the Okanagan today.