When landlords set out to rent properties, it is important for them to be aware of the laws and regulations in place to protect both themselves and the tenants. Many states have modeled their statutory law around the Model Residential Landlord-Tenant Code or the Uniform Residential Landlord And Tenant Act (URLTA), both of which stipulate rules and regulations for legal landlord-tenant relationships. As a landlord, awareness of these laws will help you rent out your property in a hassle-free manner and stay on the right side of the law in your relationship with the tenant.
Delivering Possession to the Tenant
A landlord is required to deliver possession of the property to the tenant at the start of the lease agreement, per 2.103. Landlord to Deliver Possession of Dwelling Unit. This ensures that the property will be habitable when the contract begins. If former tenants have not vacated the property by the specified time, the landlord has the legal ability to take proper action.
Providing a Habitable Residence
Landlords must provide a safe and healthy property for the tenant, per 2.104. Landlord to Maintain Premises. The means making sure the property is free of defects that could harm the tenant or make him/her unhealthy. This means that the tenant is entitled to proper sewage disposal, clean running water, electricity, and structural integrity in the residence, as well as a healthy environment free of mold or other harmful living conditions. Any problems that arise during the lease agreement must be remedied quickly. Failure to keep the property habitable could result in the tenant breaking the lease on grounds of uninhabitability, which can have a gigantic negative impact on a landlord's record.
Giving the Tenant Quiet Enjoyment
Landlords must also provide all rights of possession throughout the term of the lease, per 2.104. Landlord to Maintain Premises. This covenant of quiet enjoyment ensures the tenant's privacy while inhabiting the residence. A landlord could forcibly enter the property in a situation of imminent peril, but typically he/she must set up a time with the tenant in which to visit the property.
The Tenant's Duty to Preserve
The tenant has some responsibilities that he/she must keep up on in order to continue occupying a property, per 3.101. Tenant to Maintain Dwelling Unit. One such responsibility is the tenant's duty to preserve the property in the order that it was in at the beginning of the lease. Failure to preserve the property can result in eviction and/or loss of deposit for the tenant. Tenants should strive to return the property to the landlord in the same condition it was in when they moved in. This is often a necessary stipulation for getting back the full deposit. In some cases, a part of the deposit amount may be withheld to repair any damage that occurred during the lease period.
Duty to Operate a Business
If the tenant is renting for commercial reasons, the landlord can include a duty to operate. This is a clause in the lease agreement that requires the tenant to maintain operation of a business in the property. See 3.104. Tenant to Use and Occupy. When a duty to operate clause is included, the tenant must continuously operate the business for which the lease was signed. If the tenant fails to do so and leaves the property vacant, he/she can be evicted.
The tenant must pay rent to the landlord in full at the time that is specified in the lease, per 3.102. Rules and Regulations. If the landlord is not fulfilling his/her duties, the tenant may choose to break the lease and not pay rent. However, if the landlord is providing proper shelter for the tenants and giving them privacy, the tenant must submit rent payment on time.
The importance of both landlords and tenants understanding these rules cannot be overstated. Once you've taken care of these simple and important rules, you can enjoy watching the return on your investment property grow and maintain open, easy-going relationships with your tenants.
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