Tenants who are considering renting an apartment or home that is in questionable condition should know that most states have legislation which governs how landlords must maintain rental accommodation. These laws are often referred to as a landlords tenant’s act and anyone should take the time to look into these laws. The Landlords tenant’s act is designed to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who take their money and do not provide habitable accommodation.
Anyone who is in the prospect of signing a lease on an apartment or house that does not look to be properly habitable should check their state laws to see what the legislation says about the condition a building must be in before it can be rented.
In most states, a landlord is prohibited from accepting a security deposit on any residential property which has been condemned or declared unfit to be inhabited by people by any state or municipal authority with jurisdiction for making decisions of this nature.
Often, if a landlord chooses to accept a security deposit for a property in this condition, he or she is liable for actual damages and usually up to three times the amount of money which he or .she paid to the landlord as the deposit. Once a tenant has occupied a rental unit, if the unit or building in which it is housed becomes condemned the landlord is obligated to return the security deposit within five days after the tenant has moved from the unit. Only in a case where a tenant’s willful, malicious or otherwise irresponsible behavior caused the condemnation is the landlord excused from this.
Many states have a landlords tenant’s act on the books which says that if a tenant’s apartment or building becomes uninhabitable or otherwise unfit to live in that the tenant may move out without penalty. The landlord may not collect any more rent and any legal proceedings the landlord may initiate to recover rent will usually be dismissed by the court. The tenant should be aware, however, that the court may not agree with his or her assessment about the habitability of the building. A tenant who wishes to break a lease by exercising this method may be in for a surprise as most landlords tenant’s act legislation will require them to provide proof that the unit is uninhabitable.
Most landlords tenant’s act legislation also stipulates that a landlord must provide heat and that the locks on all units must be in good working order. The pipes must be in good working condition for a building to be considered inhabitable.
Any tenant that is concerned about the condition of a rental building they are living in should contact their local municipality to see about any recourse they may have. It may be possible to request an inspection by a city official who may then be in a position to declare a building to be condemned. Once that has occurred, the tenant may then choose to move out without fear of legal reprisals on the part of the landlord.