With a leasing arrangement, a tenant has certain duties and liabilities with regard to the relationship with the landlord. The tenant is generally responsible for the areas under his control and the safety of his or her visitors. However, the tenant has no duties with regards to structural defect hazards, dangers known to the landlord before the property was rented, and dangers caused by the landlord's negligence.
Almost all jurisdictions require tenants to:
- Keep the leased property safe
- Avoid causing damage to the property
- Dispose of garbage in a timely and proper manner
- Maintain leased appliances
- Keep all plumbing fixtures sanitary and in good working condition
- Inform the landlord of conditions that may result in damage to the landlord's property or result in liability
- Permit landlords to enter the property if proper notice is given.
Tenants also must not commit waste, which may require them to make minor repairs to the leased property. Additionally, tenants must comply with all health and safety codes and all other applicable laws, and refrain from disturbing their neighbors.
Paying Rent and Honoring the Lease
One of the most fundamental duties of a tenant is the duty to pay rent, and tenants are commonly defined as individuals who pay rent to occupy real property. Tenants have a continuing duty to pay rent under their lease unless there is a "material breach" of express or implied obligations of the lease by the landlord. If the landlord does commit a material breach, then tenants may be temporarily or permanently relieved of the duty to pay rent.
If a tenant abandons the property, he or she will normally still be required to pay rent through the end of the lease term, unless the landlord terminates the lease by constructive eviction or another method. Constructive eviction can take place when the landlord fails to keep the property in repair. The landlord may also terminate the lease if he or she takes possession of the property for his or her own purposes.
Making Repairs or Changes to the Property
A tenant's duties regarding property repairs are often defined by the specific terms of the lease. Under the implied warrant of habitability, most of the duty of repair is upon landlords; however, the duty of repair may still be imposed upon a tenant if there is an express provision in the lease. General clauses that impose upon a tenant the duty of repair generally will not require the tenant to remedy the effects of ordinary wear and tear, and most clauses that place the duty of repair upon the tenant contain an explicit exception for wear and tear.
In addition to limited duties to repair, a tenant also has a limited duty to not make changes to the property. A tenant can usually only make changes that are reasonable and necessary under the circumstances for the tenant to use the property. Tenants also have a duty to not add fixtures or annexations to a property, particularly annexations that may decrease the value of the property.
Act Reasonably and Obey Laws and Regulations
Finally, a tenant has a general duty to act reasonably. This duty encompasses duties of the tenant to obey laws, regulations, building codes, and health and safety codes. Tenants must not create a nuisance or disturb their neighbors, and they must also ensure that their guests do not create a disturbance. They must obey all regulations implemented by the landlord or leasing company. A tenant's behavior may create a liability for a landlord, such as drug laws that make landlords financially and legally responsible for activities that take place on properties they own; therefore, this liability imposes a duty on tenants to obey all laws while they reside on the landlord's property. Moreover, they must obey health and building code regulations, such as regulations related to the removal of garbage or notification of insect or rodent infestation.