Special Relationships: Landlords Tenants
Anyone who has ever rented an apartment from an unscrupulous landlord knows all about the special relationship between landlords and their tenants. Tenants are beholden to their landlords in special ways but the same holds true for landlords. Tenants have special rights and all landlords must uphold them or be subject to fines from the municipal government in the jurisdiction in which they own their property.
Everyone has probably had a situation in which they were afraid of one or more landlords. Tenants are afraid when the landlord comes to call if they don’t have the money to pay the rent because they are afraid that the landlord will evict them right away. They often do not know that it is illegal for a landlord to just throw them out of their apartment. They often do not know that a landlord has certain procedures to follow before he or she can proceed with an eviction. Tenants usually do not know that they have legal recourse when dealing with unethical landlords. Tenants can appeal to a landlord/tenant board in their city if their landlord is violating any of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
There are other regulations that deal with how apartments are taken care of by landlords. Tenants have the right to live in housing that is habitable which means that the landlord is responsible to maintain the property and keep things like wiring and plumbing in good working order. In apartments where the landlord is providing the utilities, the landlord must make sure that the utility bills are paid on time so that the utilities are not shut off by the utility company. The landlord is prohibited from shutting utilities off in any kind of retaliatory measure against a tenant who is in arrears in their rent. If a landlord does this, it is against the law and he can be reported and fined if found guilty.
Anyone who has ever lived in an apartment building where there is excessive noise caused by other tenants in the building should know that they are entitled to lodge a complaint with their landlords. Tenants are guaranteed the right to peace and quiet in an apartment building and the landlord is obligated to deal with it with the tenant who is causing the problem.
Tenants are also guaranteed the right to privacy which means that a landlord is not permitted to enter a rented apartment whenever he or she chooses to do so. He must provide the tenant with advance notice of his intent to enter the apartment. This advance notice must be given in writing and usually must be provided 24 hours prior to the time the landlord wishes to enter. Failure to do so means that the tenant can have the landlord charged with criminal trespassing. It is always best for a tenant to try to remain on good terms with a landlord and not get into any kind of adversarial position. They need to know their rights and gently advise the landlord that they are aware of them in cases where the landlord does not respect them.