Legal Fee Charges
There are cases where a property owner may charge the tenant an additional fee for maintaining a property. Some of these fees include charges for damages that are caused by the tenant. For example, if a tenant had a child playing ball in the home and a window was broken, the tenant may repair the window at their own expense or may contact the property owner to repair the window for them. In either case, this is a repair caused by the tenants negligence and would be an expense of the tenant.
Repairs that are required because a tenant caused damage may be charged to them regardless of the type of repair. However, repairs that are needed because of "normal wear and tear" may not be charged to a tenant. These repairs include painting, wallpaper replacement, window replacement, carpet cleaning or other repairs that would be required whether there was a tenant in the property or not.
Most condominiums charge some sort of a maintenance fee. In these cases, these fees are part of maintaining the common areas but may also be charged to help with routine maintenance such as plumbing, heating and other routine maintenance. Those who are renting a condominium may discover they are being charged rent as well as maintenance fees that are lumped into a category called condominium association dues. Provided these are disclosed as part of the lease agreement, these are legal charges tenants are obligated to pay. In some cases, these fees are included as part of the rent rather than as a separate fee.
Vacation and Commercial Properties May Be an Exception
In some states, commercial and vacation properties may be exempt from the rules as they apply to maintenance fees. For example, a seasonal rental may include a cleaning fee (which could be considered a maintenance fee). Owners of commercial properties may have an outside company that deals with landscaping, heating problems or other types of repairs. Depending on individual state laws as they apply to these properties, they may be allowed to charge fees for these services over and above the rent if these fees are not for keeping the buildings in habitable condition.
Property owners should carefully review the statutes in their individual states when writing up a lease agreement. The laws that apply in individual states should dictate how the agreement between the tenant and landlord are drawn up. For states that allow maintenance fees on commercial or vacation properties or on condominiums, there may be limitations on the amount of the fees that may be passed on to the tenant. As you can see, the answer to the question can I charge my tenant a maintenance fee is not always cut and dried. Make sure to check individual state statutes to fully understand the laws as they apply to the property you own.