A duty to repair, generally, refers to the duty of a life tenant to maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair. There is an exception for ordinary wear and tear. If the individual personally occupies the land, this duty is limited to the extent of the reasonable rental value of the property. Otherwise, it is to the extent of income that is derived from the property.
There is a similar duty for a tenant for a term of years. It is not, in this case, limited to the extent of income or reasonable rental value. The duty of the tenant for the term of years is usually governed by state statute as a lessee. Residential lessee's generally are not under a duty to repair according to such statutes.
This duty also exists for landlords, who are required to ensure that the facilities are “habitable.” Landlords must make repairs and conduct maintenance to ensure this habitable condition, and these laws vary slightly depending on jurisdiction.
For instance, in New York, landlords have 24 hours to complete a repair for some “immediately hazardous conditions.”
[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]