What Rental Property Maintenance Is an Investor Responsible For?

January 21, 2021 | By Charleston Property Company

Many investors use one of two rule-of-thumb methods to project annual emergency and routine maintenance costs.

  • One way is to calculate anywhere from 1-4% of the value of the rental property, but this is a diverse range that depends on many factors (like the building’s age and location).
  • The other way is to calculate $1 per square foot of building space—but this method can also prove to be inaccurate.

Needless to say, smart property investors need to know exactly what kind of rental property maintenance they are responsible for so as to prevent unnecessary profit losses.

You may choose to consult with a Charleston property management company for details, but here are some general guidelines to equip you in making this decision.

Industrial Air Conditioning Repair

What Are the Legal Responsibilities?

A property owner who rents out residential units is legally responsible for ensuring that the homes they offer in Charleston are 'habitable.' That could involve maintaining:

  • Common areas
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Appliances
  • Roofing
  • Structural safety.

While this general definition of 'habitability' is helpful, the actual details and responsibilities vary according to location and lease agreement terms.

Charleston property management company can help you to determine what local laws and regulations are required of an investor. They can also help draft a lease agreement that specifies your rental property maintenance responsibilities.

How Can a Checklist Help?

The way a property owner or manager handles maintenance can be either reactionary and remedial (putting out fires, as it were) or precautionary and preventive. Having a seasonal maintenance task list, for example, can do much to help one stay ahead of crucial routine maintenance.

  • A Charleston property management company can help to ensure you're meeting the needs of your real estate investments by conducting inspections, vetting subcontractors and other vendors, and responding to maintenance requests.
  • If you prefer to DIY, they can also give you direction while still providing other crucial property management services you may need to eliminate gaps in your coverage.

What About Laws, Regulations, and Terms?

As mentioned, the details of what property owners are legally responsible for can vary even from North Charleston to Mount Pleasant!


If appliances are provided when a home or rental unit is leased, the owner is generally responsible for maintaining them. However, the lease agreement may be written in a way that either completely or partially absolves the owner of responsibility. Hence, depending on the terms, the owner may be required to fix an appliance but not replace it. Or the owner may be relieved of their responsibility once the existing appliances reach the end of their expected 'life span.' However, you're not likely to win many renters over with this one.


Property owners can choose to leave routine filter swaps every 30-90 days in their hands or those of their renters, depending on how they write their lease. Renters do not usually want to be responsible for changing filters (and neither do you), so it is often wise to roll the cost of a filter replacement plan into the rent if you're not working with the property management Charleston offers.



While local and state laws determine the definition of habitability and property owners are responsible for responding immediately to emergencies, not all complaints are defined as an 'emergency.' Some minor repairs and complaints may not be the responsibility of the owner, especially if declared in the terms of the lease agreement.


In general, property owners are legally responsible for ensuring a safe and secure environment for their renters. However, local and state laws and regulations may also require certain safety codes to be adhered to and violations to be addressed.

While heating and plumbing problems should be addressed within 24 hours, you can likely handle other requests within 48 hours.

Obviously, a Charleston property manager would always be up-to-date on local and state laws and regulations, and we are able to provide excellent suggestions when it comes to what to include in your rental agreement.

Why Use Property Management Services for Maintenance?

A professional will not only ensure that you are aware of your responsibilities; they will also offer the service of taking on such responsibilities for you. There are numerous advantages to this. 

  • They are up-to-date on local and state laws and regulations: A competent property management company maintains certified affiliations with local industry groups, which provide notifications and training when laws and regulations change.
  • They can save you time and resources: Their services offered include many relatively mundane tasks that are important to your investment, but are much better delegated to professionals. You may benefit from their network of service providers, subcontractors, and vendors in the vicinity of your property.
  • They can stay on top of rental property maintenance: With established checklists and tested relationships, they are best suited to staying ahead of the seasons with preventive and routine maintenance.
  • They can keep your renters happy while protecting you as the investor: They provide the professional customer services your investment deserves. Prompt, professional responses build the reputation of your business.

There’s no reason to be overwhelmed by the maintenance responsibilities of being a property owner. As experts in the industry, we're happy to put our experience to work for you!

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