I was recently speaking with an attorney friend of mine about my idea to open an office to bridge the justice gap for low and middle income individuals and small businesses. My friend assumed that I would be representing tenants, not landlords. My philosophy on representing landlords is absolutely in line with my attempt to bridge the gap.
Owning property and leasing that property for residential purposes is a business venture. It is an investment. Instead of putting one's money into the bank or the stock market, a landlord chooses to invest in land and then rent it. Instead of receiving interest on the investment, a landlord receives rent. Therefore it is incumbent upon the landlord to maintain the property. Taking care of the property is minding one's investment. Making sure the heat works in the winter so the pipes
don't freeze protects your investment, but also keeps the tenant warm. Rodents can be very destructive to your investment. The tenant's hate them. If you have rodents in your property you will probably have damage to your space and a lawsuit from the tenant.
Maintaining and repairing one's property is defined in the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreement Act. The basic standard is that landlord's must "make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition." See N.C. Gen. Stat. 42-42(a)(2). Section (a)(4) demands that a landlord "maintain in good and safe working order and promptly repair" the premises. And in Section (a)(8) a landlord must "within a reasonable period of time based on the condition, repair or remedy any imminently dangerous condition on the premises after acquiring actual notice" of the condition. The list of imminently dangerous conditions includes, unsafe wiring, unsafe flooring, unsafe ceilings, lack of potable water, operating looks, etc. All of these items concern a landlord protecting his investment. What landlord wouldn't want to remedy these items?
If you keep habitable premises, you will be doing your tenant and yourself a very big favor. And not only will you preserve your premises, you will take care of your tenants. If you don't do it because of the law or because you have some moral or ethical duty to your tenants, do it for your own investment. You will be rewarded every time you sign a new lease or eventually sell your property.