Everyone knows that the relationship between a landlord and a tenant can be difficult to manage. Whether it be an unresponsive landlord or a noisy tenant, it seems that everyone has at least one horror story. Should this occur, it’s important to be well versed in landlord tenant law. These laws lay out the basic rights of each party, and while some of them are well known or obvious, there are some more subtle conditions to be aware of. Additionally, having a deeper understanding of these laws can help you better determine a course of action should any disputes arise at any point during the renting process.
A landlord’s legal obligations can be broken down into five responsibilities: Security deposit, disclosure of owner, delivering possession of unit, maintenance, and liability.
(1) Security deposit
Every landlord has an obligation to collect a security deposit from tenants before the start of their lease. The purpose of a security deposit is to cover any repairs, unpaid rent, or any other breaches of the lease that the tenant may have committed. At the end of the lease, a landlord is required to pay back the portion of the security deposit that has not been used for any of the before mentioned events.
(2) Disclosure of owner
Owners are required to disclose important information about the property, such as ongoing issues, previous history of the house (i.e. six months ago there was a meth lab in here), and any possible environmental hazards.
(3) Delivering possession of unit
This duty is pretty straight forward: the landlord is required to transfer the property to the tenant as stated in the terms of the lease. This step requires that the property be ready to moved into at the start of the lease. It also guarantees that a renter will be have what is referred to as the “Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.” This ensures that a landlord cannot interfere with a renter’s enjoyment of the property.
Landlords are required to ensure the property is habitable when a lease begins, along with performing maintenance and repairs should they be needed on the property.
A landlord is liable to injuries or harm done on the premise of their property if it is the result of some negligence on their part. For example, if a tenant on the second floor falls through the ceiling of the first floor after having it made known to the landlord that there were issues, then the landlord is liable to the damages done to the property and the tenant.
Know what protections you have when you and your landlord get into a dispute.
(1) Anti-Discrimination Laws
Landlords cannot discriminate based on sex, religion, sexual orientation, or race as per federal law. Any attempts to evict based on these grounds are unlawful and could warrant exiting the lease at no harm or penalty to the tenant.
(2) Right to a habitable home
Tenants have a right to a safe environment which the landlord is in charge of managing and ensuring. It is a landlord’s responsibility, not a tenant’s, to make repairs to a property.
(3) Security deposit
A tenant is entitled to receive the remainder of the security deposit after the expiration of the original lease. Most states require that it be paid back within 45 days, but Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky have a larger window of 60 days. If the deposit is not paid back, then legal action can be taken to ensure that a tenant receives what is lawfully theirs.
(4) Tenants Right to Privacy
While a landlord is able to enter your home, there must be a valid reason for doing so and they are not entitled to go through your belongings or carry out any action that would constitute a violation of privacy. Additionally, landlords must give proper notice before entering your home unless permission has been given to them in advance.
How can RentCheck help both tenants and landlords demonstrate and protect their rights?
RentCheck can help both Landlords and tenants avoid costly disputes and miscommunication by streamlining the inspection process. All photos taken with the RentCheck app are all stored in the Cloud for safe keeping and future review. The two-way protection of landlords and renters is achieved by making it mutually beneficial to both parties to ensure that the inspections are all up to date and the property is properly taken care of. By following these steps, landlords can rest assured that there is proper documentation of their properties and that tenants are vigilant and aware if the state of the space. Likewise, renters can feel secure knowing that there is evidence of the state of the house when they are first moved in, and that extra documentation will ultimately help them keep their security deposits as whole as possible.