Improved Rental Health

Maintaining Habitability in Rental Properties: How to Stay Safe from Legal Liabilities and Protect Your Tenants’ Health

As a journalist, I have rewritten the article to make it unique. Here is the new version:

Rental property owners and landlords are required by law to provide basic maintenance services on heating and plumbing systems, ensure clean running water, and maintain a safe structure. The concept of “habitability” may seem like common sense, but neglect in any of these areas can lead to legal liability for owners and landlords, challenges for property managers, and serious health problems for tenants. Monica Gilroy, a real estate lawyer and founding principal of The Gilroy Firm in Atlanta, emphasizes the importance of maintaining habitability in rental properties.

Gilroy recently spoke with property managers about reducing risks associated with lead-based paint and mold. In July 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an update to its rule requiring property managers to hire a certified professional to deal with repair, renovation and remediation involving lead-based paint. If implemented, the proposed rule could require property managers be certified to deal with lead-based paint repair and remediation. A public comment period ended in late 2023, and the agency was expected to release a final decision in Q1 2024. “The reality of that decision means that to be safe, potentially if [they’re] doing any renovation, property managers should be certified,” Gilroy says, adding that a property management firm could appoint one person to become certified.

If tenants claim there’s mold in their unit or in the building, Gilroy advises prompt investigation. Property managers should look at any test results the tenant may have commissioned. Developing written procedures and a checklist in response to any reports of mold is crucial. Instructions for tenants should also be created outlining what they should do whenever they believe they have encountered mold.

This information was adapted from the webinar “How to Avoid Legal Liabilities When Dealing With Property Owners and Investors,” moderated by Rental Beast, the National Association of REALTORS®’ exclusive recommended software provider in the rental space.

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