Broadly speaking, any individual who owns commercial or private property and agrees to rent or lease it to others can be considered a landlord. An apartment complex or rental house may have a "hands-on" type of owner, but leasers of retail stores, office complexes, factories and other commercial buildings also pay regular rent to a landlord. He or she may indeed be the kindly retiree who unclogs the sink, but he or she may also be a Donald Trump-level real estate investor who has little to no contact with individual renters or lessees.
A landlord bears the ultimate responsibility for any property he or she owns. This means great care must be taken to find responsible tenants who demonstrate financial stability and a respect for other people's property. In the US, federal laws prohibit a landlord from rejecting an applicant based on race, religion, country of origin and other protected factors, but he or she can still evaluate an applicant's credit history, previous rental experiences and general character. The owner is also entitled to ask for a security deposit as protection against future damage and a demonstration of good faith.
Because in the US, a landlord cannot legally enter rented property except under a few controlled conditions, a very specific lease agreement is usually drawn up before the tenant moves in. This rental agreement generally spells out the amount of the rent to be paid, the due date for payment, expected conduct of the tenant and the responsibilities of the landlord. In most situations, the landlord is responsible for repairs to the structure and any appliance or furnishing permanently attached to it. Although many are experienced handymen, they are allowed to hire outside contractors to handle their tenant's repairs and complaints.
A landlord may also agree to assume certain utility expenses, such as water or garbage pickup. This arrangement should be spelled out specifically in the lease. Laws vary widely from state to state and country to country, so renters should learn what rights a landlord does and doesn't have in terms of access to the property. In many places, this person must give 24 hours notice before entering a rented space. This allows tenants enough time to correct any potential lease violations or privacy issues before he or she arrives. If an emergency arises, however, a landlord may enter the premises unannounced to make the appropriate repairs. He or she can also enter an apartment to show it to potential tenants if the present renter has elected to move out.
Being a hands-on landlord can become an unexpected full-time job. Many property owners hand over these responsibilities to professional management companies; a local landscaping service can provide scheduled maintenance of the property and repairs can be handled by local contractors.