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by Michael Johnston


hen it comes to leasing prop- erty, sometimes it’s inevitable

provide conceptual legal answers to questions that owners of resi- dential rental property may have. Please understand that any opin- ions set forth in this column are extremely general. We strongly urge you to consult with your own attorney because real estate law varies from state to state and is al- ways in a constant state of flux due to changes in statutory, regulatory, and case law. •

that cannot be easily adjusted. For example, a tenant may be required to “maintain” the garage doors but hav- ing the rollers periodically greased. Also, the tenant may be required to make an adjustment if the automatic door opener is switched from auto- matic to manual. On the other hand, if the motor fails, this would be consid- ered a repair. I believe that it would be helpful for the landlord to provide the tenant with a listing of regular maintenance items that the landlord would expect the tenant to perform. However, the landlord should be careful not to limit the definition of maintenance to include just those items on the list. The distinction between mainte- nance and repairs is critical if litiga- tion arises over the alleged failure of a component of the rental property.

that legal issues will arise in the landlord-tenant relationship. Often, being well-informed can help ensure legalities don’t get in the way of your investment. Here is a look at a com- mon landlord question and advice from an attorney’s point of view.


My lease calls upon my tenant to “maintain” the Rental

Property and all appliances, but the lease also states that I am to perform “repairs.” What is the difference?

Michael Johnston has 39 years’ experience as a civil litigator and has represented property owners in numerous landlord/tenant cases. Mr.


The line between mainte- nance and repairs can be blurry. Typically, maintenance in- volves preventative measures, but can also involve adjustments. Repairs typ- ically refer to actions that are needed

Johnston is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in the field of Civil Litigation as well as Consumer Law, which includes landlord/ tenant litigation. Mr. Johnston regularly serves as an arbitrator in consumer and commercial cases as well as insurance-related cases. He can be reached at (800) 771-6946 or

The purpose of this column is to

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