Tenant Rights, Law, and Leases

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Know your rights as a renter when it comes to the law and leases.

Tenant Rights, Law, and Leases

In an ideal situation, the relationship between tenants and landlords would work well, creating a safe environment for both without disturbing the peace or breaking stride. While many of the relationships between tenants and landlords work very well, we've all heard plenty of horror stories about possible exceptions to the rule. The laws protecting both parties have grown in complexity, but some rules and rights are basic and can be expected when a lease is signed. This article will cover most of them for your reference:

  • Fair housing policies make it illegal for landlords to deny housing to a tenant based on color, race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, or family status. In some countries, laws like that may not exist or be followed as closely.

  • In many countries and states around the world, governments limit the amount of security deposits charged by landlords. Caps on security deposits are intended to prevent landlords from taking advantage of tenants. In less-regulated countries where fraud is common, some landlords may attempt to find excuses to keep security deposits, so pay heed to any telltale signs that might tip you off to this practice, like vague definitions of "wear and tear."

  • Tenant Rights, Law, and Leases
  • Landlords should be able to complete any repairs and maintenance required in a timely fashion. Alternately, the lease agreeement may contain a provision noting that the tenants may order repairs and subtract their cost from the rent.

  • Landlords are required to give advance notice before gaining entry to the premises. If a tenant notices during signing that the lease doesn't have language to this effect, the tenant can ask to have a privacy clause added. A typical privacy clause will limit entry by the landlord to the premises during emergencies, for necessary repairs, to provide services as agreed, or to show the unit to potential tenants or repairmen. Except in an emergency, the landlord must provide at least 24 hours' written notice, including date, time, and purpose for entry.

  • Any provisions in the rental agreement not covered by the law cannot be enforced in a legal court. This is especially relevant to any conditions and requirements not covered in the lease in written form.

  • If the landlord has violated terms in the lease that are related to repairs, safety,  or health issues, the tenant will likely have the right by law to break the lease, based on the situation. Some leases have a "quiet enjoyment" clause that allows a tenant to move out if the disruptive behavior of neighbors cannot be controlled by the landlord. Documenting complaints about noise, domestic disturbances, and other issues that destroy the tenant's quiet enjoyment of the rental unit will help the tenant to avoid paying for the remainder of the lease term or losing the security deposit.

  • In cases where a tenant must break a lease, most landlords will be required to look for a new tenant soon, rather than enforcing a charge on the tenant for the full duration of the lease. Many leases specify the length of time for which a tenant must still pay rent for the apartment after a lease is broken.

  • Tenant Rights, Law, and Leases
  • Landlords may not take normal "wear and tear" and maintenance costs out of the security deposit. In cases when part or all of the security deposit is not refunded, the landlord must provide an itemized account of damages and repairs to the tenant. Refundable parts of security deposits will usually be returned to the tenants within 14–30 days after the tenants have vacated the premises. Landlords will need to return the refundable portion of the security deposit even after eviction.

  • Landlords are explicitly forbidden to seize tenant property due to nonpayment of rent or for any other reason whatsoever. The only exception is abandonment, as defined by the laws of the respective location.

  • A landlord has no right to legally switch and change locks, shut off utilities, or otherwise hamper or evict a tenant without notice. Eviction should be done with a court order and only legally.

  • If a landlord actively tries to sabotage the life of a tenant living on the premises to try to force a tenant to move, this interference may be considered an act of “constructive eviction.” Such actions are most often grounds for taking legal actions against the landlord.

The best way for landlords and tenants alike to protect their rights is to tour the future premises together. Note and photograph any pre-existing damage before moving in. Whenever a tenant must move out, the tenant will have the right to ask the landlord to provide an itemized list of any charges. Obtaining such a list is necessary when a landlord is withholding parts of the security deposit based on reports of damage made by the tenant. If a tenant finds discrepancy between the list of damages made during the move-in tour and the one provided by the landlord during moving out, the tenant should let the landlord know right away. Tenants should keep copies of every single act of correspondence with the landlord, maintaining accurate, dated records of in-person and phone conversations as well as any other contact. It is best to be on the safe side, regardless of character and history.

More tips about moving you can read at www.removalsmanandvan.org.uk

Grace Bailey

Grace is an artistic and passionate writer, keen on exploring all the miracles of the world around us. She really enjoys sharing tips and tricks of home organizing, eco-friendly living, and innovative technologies.

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