Owning a multifamily property is a great investment that can provide income that is not quite passive yet does not require full-time hours.
Being a landlord in Dallas, Texas, however, comes with several responsibilities. Before you invest in a property—or if you already have—keep this list of landlord duties close at hand.
1. Adhering to occupancy codes
Did you know that only three adults per bedroom are allowed in a Texas rental?
Landlords can choose to allow fewer, but not more, adults in their rental properties. Turning a blind eye can lead to issues with local authorities, and it is not worth the potential hassle.
2. Supplying running water
Landlords must provide habitable living conditions. While there are some gray areas as to what this constitutes, providing running water is certainly a requirement. The water can be shut off for short periods for construction or similar situations. You will want to provide plenty of notice to your tenants if it is possible to do so.
If the problem is a city issue, the landlord will not be penalized, but if it is a repair for which the landlord is responsible, it must be made quickly, or the tenant may have the right to withhold rent and additional penalties could apply.
3. Supplying hot water
Landlords must supply a way for tenants to have running hot water that reaches at least 120° F. A broken water heater should be fixed within 24 hours.
4. Hiring a professional electrician when needed
Many landlords are handy and take on a lot of tasks as DIY projects. Unless you are a licensed electrician, however, you need to leave any electrical work to a professional commercial electrician.
The reasons are as follows:
“If something goes wrong when you’re painting, it won’t look great. If something goes wrong when you’re fixing the roof, you might end up with a leak. If something goes wrong when you’re performing electrical work, serious injury or death can result.” warns Texas Electrical.
The risk is too great, so hire a professional every time you need electrical installations or repairs.
5. Maintaining vital functions
In addition to running water and electricity, the landlord must also ensure that other services are in working order at all times. These include plumbing, gas, heating and air conditioning (if provided), elevators, and landlord-supplied appliances, such as ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
6. Supplying smoke detectors
Part of being a landlord is providing a safe environment for tenants, and this includes installing the correct number of smoke detectors. There must be a smoke detector installed outside of each bedroom in the unit.
Be sure to test them as recommended by the manufacturer and change the batteries twice per year.
7. Maintaining common areas
Keeping common areas safe and clean is another important responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, providing adequate lighting, keeping areas free of trash and debris, and maintaining the lawn.
8. Lock requirements
The lock requirements for Texas landlords are intended to enhance safety for tenants. These requirements, which must be paid for by the landlord and supplied without being asked by the tenant include:
- Doorknob locks or keyed deadbolt on all exterior doors
- Keyless bolting device on all exterior doors
- Peepholes on all exterior doors
- Window latches on all windows
- Sliding door handle lock or sliding door security bar on all exterior sliding doors
- Sliding door pin lock on all exterior sliding doors
9. All reasonable repairs
This is another area where there is some room for interpretation but, as a landlord, you should keep your property in excellent condition both for the sake of the tenant and to protect your investment.
While a coat of paint may be able to wait, repairs such as a leaky roof, leaky pipes, and broken windows must be fixed immediately.
10. Maintain certificate of occupancy
When you purchase a new property or build a new building, you must apply for a certificate of occupancy. This requires an inspection to make sure all codes are met and that the building is suitable for tenants. Exact requirements for a certificate of occupancy vary by location, so be sure to check the regulations in your area.
The bottom line
It is important to keep in mind the kind of tenants you hope to attract—and keep. You want to keep your units occupied. One of the best ways of doing so is by making your tenants want to stay long-term. It is a lot easier to keep a good tenant happy than it is to have to turn over the unit and screen new applicants.
If your tenants know they can count on you to maintain their home and treat them fairly, they are less likely to want to find a new place at the end of their lease.
This list of responsibilities is not all-inclusive, but it is a good starter list of them. Going above and beyond what is required will make for happier tenants and will ensure your building stays in good shape and maintains its value year after year.