A Beginner’s Guide to Landlord Tenant Laws

landlord tenant laws

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Are you a landlord who owns one or more properties? According to Flex, the average landlord owns three properties. Do you understand all the laws that pertain to you and your tenants? If not, then it’s time for you to get an overview of some of the basics of dealing with tenants. Here is a beginner’s guide to landlord tenant laws.

Security Deposits

Most landlords ask for a security deposit to ensure that you can receive payment in case a tenant damages your apartment. It’s also a good way to ensure that you’ll at least get last month’s rent before they move out. The amount of the security deposit may vary, but most landlords tend to simply charge the same amount that they would charge for one month’s rent. Stay in compliance regarding landlord tenant laws. There are certain rules that you should know when it comes to collecting and returning a tenant’s deposit.

Give your tenant a receipt immediately upon receiving the deposit. This deposit should also be kept in a separate account. Once the tenant moves out, the security deposit should be returned within a reasonable amount of time. In other words, don’t wait a whole year to give it back to them. It is within your rights to deduct expenses from the security deposit, as the purpose of it is to protect you in the event of damage. By law, you must create an itemized list of such deductions that you’ve made from the deposit and include valid reasons for them.

Rent Increases

Raising the rent comes with the territory of owning and running an apartment building or house. Many landlords will raise the rent over time, especially to adjust for ongoing expenses, inflation, or market demand. After all, being a landlord itself is a business, and you want to ensure you’re making a profit and can adjust your income appropriately. With that being said, there are still some rules to consider when raising the rent, as there should be some controls involved.

Like your tenants, you also have to follow the terms of your lease agreement as well as landlord tenant laws. Your tenant should have adequate notice before their rent goes up. If there are any rent control laws in your area, you must stick to them. These rent control laws put limits on how much and how often a landlord can raise the rent. You may also need to prepare to justify your reasons for raising the rent at that time.

Evictions

Evictions are the bane of many landlords. Unfortunately, you may have to use this legal resort to force a tenant to move out who is causing you various types of problems. However, you can’t get rid of a tenant just because you personally may not like them, especially if they’re following the law. An eviction should only occur when there is a legal and valid cause for doing so on your end.

Legal reasons for starting an eviction process include illegal activity; the tenant may be a nuisance to the other building tenants and other people in the neighborhood due to such behaviors. They may be in obvious breach of a lease, i.e., they’ve moved other tenants into the home whose names aren’t on the lease. Of course, the most common one of all is not paying rent. Following due process may include giving a written notice, filing an eviction lawsuit, obtaining a court order, and hiring a marshal to give the official eviction notice and handle the process.

Repairs

At some point, your rental unit will likely need some repairs. When it comes to landlord tenant laws, it is your responsibility to maintain a habitable place for people to live. You should ensure that the rental unit is always a safe and sanitary place that lives up to building codes and regulations.

The tenant also has some responsibility in this regard. When the tenant moves in, the apartment should be in suitable living condition. Upon moving out, it still should be in a similar condition, minus some typical wear and tear that can come from someone living there. As a landlord, if you fail to act on any defects or problems reported by a tenant, you’re liable for any repairs and issues arising due to such negligence.

Landlord tenant laws vary by local municipality and state. It’s your responsibility to understand these laws before you own a property and start bringing tenants on. Being aware of such laws and peacefully enacting them can help you have success as a landlord. If you have further questions about your local tenant laws, contact our experienced team at The Law Office Of Lawrence M. Centanni for more information.

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