Be Familiar with Landlord Tenant Laws
For the most part, landlord tenant laws are state creations, so they can vary fairly significantly from state to state. While you might never run into any serious trouble with your landlord, it only makes sense to be familiar with the laws that govern the obligations of both tenants and landlords in your state. Specific landlord tenant laws for your state can be found online. However, what follows are some requirements for both tenants and landlords that most states have enacted:
Landlord Tenant Laws – Duties of the Landlord
- Offer livable apartment conditions. The apartment should be clean with working appliances and utilities. Carpet and flooring need not be in new condition but must be in reasonably good shape and there can be no insects or termites in the unit.
- Handle any necessary repairs. It is the responsibility of the landlord to handle any maintenance due to routine wear and tear, as well as more serious repairs. As long as the damage was not caused by the tenant, the repair and the cost are both to be handled by the landlord. States generally require that repairs and maintenance be handled within a reasonable time period, though that differs from state to state.
- No discrimination. The landlord cannot try to evict a tenant in order to accommodate someone else the landlord would prefer in the complex. Tenants who have disabilities or are pregnant must be treated without discrimination, as well as a tenant who may complain to authorities about conditions in the apartment or that repeated requests have been ignored by the landlord.
- Offer notice if ownership changes. Virtually all states require that the tenant both have a name and address for the landlord and be notified if the ownership of the apartment complex changes hands.
- Refund deposits timely. Many states require landlords return a damage deposit – or any part due to that tenant – within a month. This time frame may vary slightly in some states.
Landlord Tenant Laws – Duties of the Tenant
- Pay rent timely. State law usually sets out a time limit – such as a week – for a tenant to pay rent beyond the due date before a landlord can take legal action. State laws may also dictate stronger remedies for landlords with tenants who are habitually late on rent payments.
- Follow lease rules for roommates or subleasing. In general, an apartment can only be sublet if it is allowed in the lease and the landlord is notified in writing. Rules are not as strict on roommates, with the regulations in this area usually contained in the lease agreement.
- Keep apartment in condition it was received. Tenants are expected to keep the apartment free of trash and report any damage caused to the landlord.
- Do not disturb neighbors. Tenants must know create conditions or noise that disturbs the peaceful possession of an apartment by others in the complex. State laws often set out a procedure allowing the landlord to evict a tenant if noise issues are not resolved.