When you’re renting out a property in Beaufort or anywhere throughout South Carolina, you have different sets of responsibilities for landlords and for tenants. The relationship is a partnership, and each party needs to understand its own responsibilities.
Generally, landlords are required to maintain the property and provide a habitable and safe living environment. Landlords are required to respond to maintenance requests and follow all rental laws. Tenants are required to keep the property clean and in good shape while paying the agreed-upon rent every month.
What about utilities? Who is responsible for keeping the lights on and the water running?
Whether landlords or tenants are responsible for utilities depends on the property, the rental amount, and the type of utility service we’re talking about.
There’s no single answer that works for everyone. You’re free to decide how utilities are managed and paid for in your rental property, and we’re taking a look at your options.
Paying for Utilities Depends on Beaufort Rental Home Type
One thing that matters is the type of property you’re renting.
Tenants are generally responsible for establishing their own utility accounts and paying the bills for electricity, gas, trash, and water when they rent a single-family home in Beaufort. It makes sense; tenants move into a single-family home for the space and privacy such a rental property provides. They will want to maintain control over the utility accounts. They’ll also be the only people using those utilities; there are no communal spaces and no collective use of water or lights.
With multi-family properties in Beaufort, like a duplex or a condo or an apartment unit, things are a little different. Landlords will sometimes cover the cost of utilities for a building and then either bill back the amount that’s due to each tenant based on usage, or just charge a general and consistent flat fee every month for water, electricity, trash, and sewer costs.
If you want to keep the utility bills in your own name, you’ll have to bill the tenants separately for what they use or roll that amount into the monthly rent.
Cable, Internet, and Additional Services
There are essential utilities and there are non-essential utilities. While a rental property is not habitable without water and electricity, additional services like cable, internet, and smart home technology are optional services that most tenants can decide whether they need or don’t need. Landlords in Beaufort are under no obligation to provide free cable or internet to their tenants.
However, many apartment communities and multi-family rental homes will provide basic cable and wireless internet to tenants in the hope that it will make their properties more competitive on the market. While this is not something that’s required, it’s something you might want to consider as a landlord, especially if you want a competitive edge in a crowded market.
In a single-family home, you would likely not provide internet services or cable. Leave those things up to the tenant. It will be helpful for you to make recommendations and provide contact information about providers, but setting up those services is generally not a landlord’s responsibility.
Address Utilities in the Lease Agreement
Whether you’re paying for all utilities or none of the utilities, make sure your lease agreement stipulates exactly who is responsible for paying which bills. This will ensure that you and your tenants are on the same page and everyone understands their responsibilities and expectations.
We can help you establish who should pay for utilities and how those accounts should be managed. Please contact us at Beaufort Rentals for any of your questions about residential property management in Beaufort and the surrounding areas.