Property maintenance refers to the overall upkeep of real property or land. It may refer to the maintenance of either private residential property or commercial real estate. Property maintenance is usually performed by the property owner, although in many cases the owner may hire a maintenance company to perform the tasks.
Property maintenance services can include:
- General and specific repairs
- Cleaning services
- Installation of various fixtures
- Installation and upkeep of utilities such as plumbing, electrical, wiring, etc.
- Structural repairs or re-installation of roofing or garage doors
- Cosmetic or aesthetic changes such as a new paint job
Property maintenance is sometimes included under the term “property management”. However, property management may often refer to other responsibilities such as landlord duties. Property maintenance can also overlap heavily with local health and safety codes.
Who is Responsible for Property Maintenance?
Responsibility for property maintenance is different depending on the type of property, and depending on state laws. Various parties can be responsible for property maintenance duties, including:
- Owners of land
- Some renters
- Joint owners or joint tenants of property
- Merchants, shop keepers, and retail store owners
In particular, landowners and retail shop owners can be held liable for premises liability claims. A common example of this when a shop owner becomes liable for the slip and fall injuries of a customer due to an unsafe floor surface.
What Happens When Property Maintenance Becomes a Legal Issue?
Property maintenance generally becomes a legal issue if it causes harm or economic loss to another party. Many property maintenance lawsuits are based on a negligence theory. A negligence lawsuit can arise if one party causes injury to another due to a breach of their duty of care.
The party’s “duty of care” may be different depending on their relationship to the property. For instance, the owner of a retail shop may have a higher duty to keep their premises safe than the owner of a residential home. Also, the duty of care may differ depending on who the visitor is. Again, a business owner usually owes a high standard of care to their customers, while a residential home owner may have little or no duty of care to make their property safe for a trespasser.
Remedies for a failure to maintain property can result in a damages award for the victim. This may cover their economic losses caused by the injury, such as medical bills or hospital expenses. It may also cover other types of damages, such as pain and suffering or lost wages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Property Maintenance Laws?
Property maintenance laws can depend on a number of different factors and can be very different from area to area. If you need help understanding what your rights and duties are with regards to property maintenance, you may wish to hire a real estate lawyer for professional legal advice. Your attorney can advise you on how to proceed if you need to file a lawsuit for any losses or if you need legal representation for your claim.