Landlord-tenant law includes rights and obligations
each landlord and each tenant has with regard to the rental property. Both
parties need to know the basics of renting a place, how to collect or pay
security deposits, the basics of state and federal laws regarding fair housing,
If you are a landlord, you may need help working
out tax deductions or determining how to get a renter evicted because of unpaid
rent. Tenants, on the other hand, may need help understanding their rights to
tenant safety, how security deposits are returned, and whether they can sublet
the rental property.
This section has some basic information and
resources for both parties involved in the landlord-tenant relationship.
The landlord-tenant relationship is outlined in the
lease agreement, which protects both landlords' and tenants'rights. Most
states also recognize lease agreements made orally, but only for a period of
one year or less.
A typical lease agreement includes:
- The names of the parties involved (landlord
- Address and description of the rental unit
- Rent payment and date by which it must be paid
- Amount of the security deposit
- Whether pets are allowed
Sometimes, sections of a lease agreement could be
illegal. New tenants should check their local laws if in doubt, but generally,
landlords may not include any of the following terms:
- Discriminatory exclusion of tenants (excluding
a tenant based on gender, religion, race, etc.)
- Waiver of right to sue landlord (telling a
tenant they cannot bring a lawsuit against their landlord)
- Waiver of right to receive a refund of the
security deposit (minus repairs and cleaning costs)
A short-term lease agreement -- a lease agreement
for 30-day short-term rentals -- is often referred to as "rental
agreement." Lease agreements are typically for a year or more.
Most landlords require tenants to pay security
deposits before moving in. Security deposits are limited under most state laws.
For instance, California law limits deposits to two months' rent (or three
months if furnished). Alabama law, in contrast, has no limits.
The security deposit is different from paying last
month's rent and must be repaid in full, minus any deductions for repairs or costs
associated with cleaning. If you are required to pay a deposit, you should
consider signing a statement with your landlord outlining the exact condition
of the unit to eliminate disputes at the end of the lease term.
Laws in many states also dictate how soon a
landlord must return a tenant's deposit after moving out, usually 30 days or
so. In addition to cleaning and repairs, the landlord may deduct any unpaid
rent from the deposit. However, the landlord can't deduct for what may be
considered normal wear and tear. Many states require landlords to provide a
detailed list of damages and repairs, as well as a detailed list of the cost of
repairs or cleaning.
The Fair HousingAct protects tenants from
civil rights violations, including housing discrimination based on race, color,
religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status (although this is
waived for some retirement communities), and disability. Some states'
landlord-tenant laws also offer anti-discrimination protections on the basis of
LGBT identity and marital status.
And if you have a helper animal, such as a
seeing-eye dog, a landlord may not refuse to rent to you solely because of a
"no pets" policy. Other rights also include:
- The right to quiet enjoyment (living
- The right to livable conditions
- The right to a home free of lead
- A certain level of privacy in the rental
property (e.g., a landlord may not enter your home unannounced)
Landlords also have certain legalrights,
mainly related to the protection of their income investment. For example, a
landlord may require a monthly payment of rent and the payment of other items
specified in the lease agreement, such as utility bills. Landlords also have
the right to evict tenants, but it must be for cause (such as nonpayment of
rent). They should also give an evictionnotice within a reasonable
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Tuesday, 12 October 2021