Renters Law – Basics of Landlord Tenant Law
There are many types of rental contracts. A contact can simply be an oral one where a landlord and a tenant understand one another while it can also run to several pages in a thick written rental contract. Regardless of the type of rental contract, all leasing or rental arrangements are governed by renters law that is applicable in a particular state. The clauses and terms mentioned in a lease are invalid if they are not in compliance with state renters law. The renters law varies slightly from state to state although the following general principles are applicable to tenants residing in any state in the U.S.
Right to habitability – renters law – The tenancy law statutes in all states will usually begin with a habitability clause. This clause will state that a landlord needs to maintain a property in a habitable condition. A habitable condition is one that will provide tenants with adequate heat, access to basic utilities and running water. Additionally, renters law pertaining to the habitability clause will require apartments to have working locks, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, fire exits and even peep holes and deadbolts in doors. If an apartment is not in a habitable condition, renters law will allow tenants to withhold rent payments or at least pay reduced rent until the apartment is restored to a habitable condition.
Right to peace and quiet – renters law – Another very important clause in renters law relates to the privacy of the tenants. According to renters law in all states, the tenant must be able to enjoy a rental property without any disturbance from the landlords or neighbors. This aspect of renters law in also called the right to quiet enjoyment. If the peace and quiet of a tenant is disturbed, the tenant can withhold rent payments or break the lease as the landlord has not fulfilled their obligations in providing a peaceful renting arrangement. Generally, renters law will require landlords to provide tenants with a notice period before entering an apartment. This notice period will depend on an individual state’s renters law and some states will require 24 hours of notice while some will need 72 hours of notice to be provided by the landlord.
Right to carry out repairs – renters law – Renters law will clearly state that the landlord is responsible for all repairs that are brought about by wear and tear in an apartment or in the common areas of a rental property. So, if a furnace breaks down due to wear and tear, renters law will require the landlord to fix the furnace at his own cost. Renters law will also state that some repairs need to be carried out faster than others. Taking the example of the furnace again, renters law will specify that problems with the heat in the middle of winter will need immediate attention from the landlord.
However, tenancy laws will usually exempt landlords from performing any repair if the damages were directly caused by the actions of the tenants. For example, if a tenant punches a hole in the wall in a fit of rage, it is not the responsibility of the landlord to fix it. In fact, the landlord can seek damages from the tenant for creating such repairs.