What Are Squatters Rights in Idaho

In general terms, squatters rights in Idaho are governed by the common law statutes which dictate how property is being used through adverse possession.

An oral claim for possession is allowed in Idaho, but only when the squatters have been paying the property taxes on a parcel of land for a minimum of 20 years.

All other provisions under Idaho law must also be met for an adverse possession claim to be filed.

How could a property owner lose their Idaho property to squatters today?

Here are the provisions that must be followed exactly for a claim to be heard.

1. The Property In Question Must Be Possessed And Occupied.

Squatters cannot simply decree that they are using a property for 5-20 years [depending on when the squatting began] and then file an adverse possession claim.

It must be possessed and occupied for the prescribed period of time for their claim to be heard.

There are two ways that squatters can meet this definition:

1) by creating a substantial enclosure on the property to help protect it;

or 2) to cultivate or improve the property as any other property owner would do.

2. There Must Not Be a Written Instrument Of Ownership In Place.

An adverse possession claim will never be heard if a property owner has recorded a written instrument with their county clerk regarding their intent to use the property.

Even if squatters are there without permission, this written instrument shows evidence that a property owner intends to use their land at some point and it negates the possession requirement of adverse possession.

3. Abandoned Property Still Isn’t Unowned Property.

Squatters often take advantage of foreclosed properties as a method of attempting the adverse possession process.

When this occurs, the property owner is the bank.

They must follow the standard eviction process to remove the squatters from the property, but they have this right.

Because of this, most adverse possession claims tend to involve neighbors instead of squatters attempting to get a house for free.

4. Granting Permission Negates Any Squatters Rights.

If a property owner in Idaho grants permission for squatters to be on their land, then this negates any rights that they may have for an adverse possession claim.

The common law elements require that squatters be occupying a property with “hostility,” which basically means they are there without permission against the wishes of the owner.

Once this element is removed, there is no adverse possession claim within the state.

5. Squatting Must Be Obvious.

Idaho requires squatters to move into a property and make it obvious that they are taking possession of it in some way.

This might include changing the locks, posting signs that forbid trespassing, or having utilities hooked up to the location.

Once this occurs and it is against the wishes of the property owner, then the eviction process must be followed.

6. Property Taxes Must Be Paid By The Squatters.

Many states allow for squatters to possess a property and eventually make a claim for adverse possession even if their actions are in bad faith. Idaho does not allow this.

For an adverse possession claim to be heard, the squatters must have been paying the property taxes on a parcel of land that they are actively using for a minimum of 20 consecutive years (older adverse possession cases may still qualify for a 5 year period instead of 20 years).

If the taxes are not paid, then the adverse possession claim cannot move forward.

7. Farmland May Be Exempted From Squatters Rights.

Idaho has right to farm laws which allow farmers to utilize their land in different ways.

This even means they are allowed to create a public disturbance if their actions are for farming.

If land is not being used, it could be that a farmer is allowing that land to rest for a season and this would potentially disqualify it being possessed by squatters.

8. Fence Laws May Not Qualify As Actual Possession.

Idaho allows a hedge to be considered a fence in some instances, but this does not mean the land outside of a property’s boundaries is actually being possessed by someone else.

Remember the property tax statute: unless the owner of the property is paying the actual taxes of the land that is not theirs on their side of a fence, an adverse possession claim will generally be disallowed.

What are squatters rights in Idaho?

Although this state in the past had laws that could be easily fulfilled in the past, those laws have changed and now property owners have the advantage.

Know these key points and you’ll be able to know how to respond to the idea of adverse possession on either side of the debate.

What Is the Eviction Process in New Jersey

Under New Jersey landlord tenant laws, there must be a good cause to evict a tenant.

Any violation of the rental agreement or lease may qualify under this good cause section.

The most common reason to have the cause to evict is for the nonpayment of rent.

Even then, however, if rent funds were used to pay utility services, a landlord cannot actually evict a tenant after receiving a notice that services would be shut off.

Any violation must be accompanied by an appropriate written notice that is delivered to the tenant.

The amount of required time for this notice depends on the violation in question.

In New Jersey, what is considered appropriate notice may be as short as 3 days or may require up to 3 years in specific situations.

Here is a brief rundown of the required notices that landlords must give tenants.

3 Day Notice. This is given for property damage, violence, employment contingencies, threatening a landlord, or drug convictions which involve the property.

14 Day Notice. This is for the nonpayment of rent, including rent that is habitually late.

30 Day Notice. This is for rental agreement violations that do not include health or safety violations by the tenant.

90 Day Notice. This is for all tenant health and safety violations.

18 Month Notice. Landlords may issue this notice if they plan to stop using a rental unit for residential use. A tenant does not need to be out of compliance for this eviction notice.

2 Year Notice. This is for tenants who have been convicted of any criminal activity.

3 Year Notice. This is for rental properties that are converting to cooperatives.

Once the proper notice has been served, a tenant has the right to get back into compliance.

This is true even if the violations are habitual in nature.

The only exception to this would be the “no cause” evictions which require more than 1 year of notice before eviction proceedings can begin.

Taking a Tenant to Court

Only the justice system in New Jersey has the authority to evict a tenant.

This means a landlord must file a complaint with their local Office of the Special Civil Part Clerk.

There is a filing fee associated with this action.

A summons will be issued to the tenant at this point and a hearing date set to hear both sides of the eviction case.

Landlords and tenants both have the right to present their case at trial.

Written statements will not be heard by the court, so both parties must schedule any witnesses they wish to testify on their behalf.

A judge will hear both sides of the case and issue a ruling.

If a tenant prevails, then the eviction process must start over from the very beginning.

If the landlord prevails, then the tenant can be forced off of the premises.

What Happens When an Eviction Order Is Enforced?

Tenants have 3 business days to move from a rental unit when they’ve lost an eviction case once a warrant for possession has been served.

After 3 business days, landlords have the authority to change locks or have law enforcement come out to physically remove tenants.

New Jersey prohibits landlords from taking possession of an evicted tenant’s property.

They are authorized to move any leftover belongings to a storage unit at the cost of the evicted tenant.

This cost, along with any legal fees and past due rent, can become part of a separate financial judgment which may be issued.

Even after a writ of possession is authorized, however, a tenant may still be able to stay in a rental unit for up to 6 additional months.

In order for this to happen, the court must issue special permissions for the tenant to stay.

All rent that is past due must be paid in full and any other court orders must be followed for this to be allowed.

What a Landlord Cannot Do

New Jersey does not allow any self-help eviction methods.

Tenants can use any action that a landlord takes to evict them as an active defense in court.

Retaliation through the form of eviction is also not allowed. If a tenant is not following the rental agreement or lease and that action qualifies under New Jersey landlord tenant law as a violation, then the eviction process can be started.

These steps are just a brief outline of the process.

For a complete look at the eviction process in New Jersey or to answer specific questions, be sure to look at the specific statutes which govern this area or speak with a knowledgeable attorney familiar with this situation.

Easy Guide to Florida Landlord Tenant Law

Under Florida landlord tenant law, tenants have certain rights and responsibilities to which they are entitled.

A person becomes a tenant when they pay rent to live in a mobile home, condo, apartment, or single family home whether there is a lease in place or just a verbal agreement. This is an easy guide to those rights and responsibilities.

1. The Right To Private And Peaceful Possession.

Florida allows landlords to enter a rented unit to inspect it or make necessary or agreed upon repairs.

Reasonable notice is required for entry unless emergency conditions exist.

2. The Right To a Habitable Environment.

A rental unit in Florida must have plumbing that works, access to hot water, have a reasonable amount of security, and be structurally sound.

Any building must meet local safety, health, and building codes.

3. Tenants Must Maintain Their Living Conditions.

A tenant must maintain a rental unit so that it continues meeting all necessary codes.

This means removing trash when necessary, cleaning the unit, and using appliances as they are intended.

Any damages to a unit that is caused by tenant neglect is generally the responsibility of the tenant to pay.

4. Tenants Can Be Evicted Even If Partial Rent Payments Are Received.

If a landlord has issued a notice to quit because of the nonpayment of rent, the eviction procedures can still take place even if they accept a partial payment for past due rent.

Sometimes housing associations can demand that tenants pay rent to them instead of the landlord.

All evictions are handled through the courts.

5. Tenants Have The Right To Their Security Deposit.

A security deposit must be maintained throughout an entire tenancy.

Landlords must return the full amount within 15 days of moving out or provide a detailed statement of deductions from the security deposit.

Interest on this amount may be required to be paid in certain circumstances.

If a tenant does not provide a forwarding address upon moving out, the may lose the right to claim any remainder to the deposit.

This guide is not intended to cover every potential situation that may occur under a Florida rental agreement between a tenant and landlord.

Be sure to consult with Florida’s landlord tenant law to receive specific answers for your situation or consult with a legal professional.

The Key Points of Michigan Renters Rights

Once a rental agreement is assigned, the household which occupies a rental unit becomes a tenant.

This gives them access to all of the renters rights they are allowed under Michigan’s landlord tenant laws.

In basic terms, this means that renters are allowed to live in a place that is habitable.

This includes the actual property in addition to the structure being occupied.

Common areas should also be maintained for normal use. Here are the key points of Michigan renters rights to consider in addition to the rights that are listed above.

1. Renters Generally Have a Right To Receive Repairs In a Reasonable Time.

Renters can ask their landlord to make a needed repair in writing.

Landlords must generally then make this repair in a reasonable amount of time.

Renters have the right to request a deadline.

The exception to this rule is that Michigan allows this right to be waived for leases that last longer than 1 year.

If the repair is not made, then renters have the right to place their rent into an escrow account or pay for the repairs and deduct the cost.

2. Renters Have The Right To Have a Quiet Enjoyment Of The Property.

Landlords are not allowed to do anything that prevents a renter from having access to their home.

This means renters must not be threatened, have force used against them, or have personal property removed, withheld, or destroyed.

Locks may not be altered without tenant permission.

Landlords may not even enter without permission unless they’ve offered previous notice for an inspection or sales tour or there is an emergency repair which must be made.

3. Renters Have The Right To Change The Terms Of The Lease.

If a tenant and a landlord mutually agree to change the terms of a lease while it is still active, then Michigan allows for this to take place.

Any changes should be in writing, signed by all parties, and made as an addendum to the lease.

There are some reasons why a landlord could make changes to a lease without the agreement of a tenant, including the need to raise rent to meet raises in property taxes, utilities, or insurance costs.

4. Renters Have The Right To Hold Over After An Expired Lease.

When a renter’s lease ends, they are allowed to keep living in the rental property if this is also agreed upon by the landlord.

Both parties can either negotiate a new lease or the tenancy can become month-to-month instead.

Some leases offer an automatic renewal, so renters must pay close attention to what their lease says when they initially sign it.

5. Some Renters Have The Right To Break Their Lease.

If a renter fears that they might become a victim of domestic violence, then there are circumstances which allow them to break the lease and move to a new location without having an obligation to pay rent through the end of the lease.

This includes stalking or various types of assault.

6. Renters Have The Right To Receive a Full Security Deposit Refund.

Landlords are allowed to keep a portion of the security deposit when there are damages to a rental unit which must be repaired.

Damages cannot be charged when what needs to be repaired is normal wear and tear.

If a rental unit has a carpet which is 20 years old and it needs to be replaced because it has just worn out, the last tenant to occupy the space doesn’t foot the bill. Normal wear and tear can be different for different households as well.

A family with 3 kids and 3 dogs will have a different level of wear and tear than a newlywed couple renting their first property together.

7. Renters Have The Right To Have a Capped Security Deposit.

Michigan allows landlords to charge a security deposit that is 1.5x the amount of rent they charge in their lease. If the monthly rent on the property is $1,000, then the maximum security deposit would be $1,500.

This cap applies no matter what a landlord may try to call this deposit and applies even when the first and last month’s rent is requested to begin the tenancy.

These key points cover just a few of the renters rights which are provided by the state of Michigan.

If your question was not answered here, then be sure to consult with the specific state statutes which govern your situation under local landlord-tenant laws or ask a knowledgeable attorney.

Louisiana Landlord Tenant Law: Important Points to Know

Before moving into a rental unit or becoming a landlord, Louisiana has some unique aspects of their landlord tenant law which should be reviewed.

In basic terms, tenants are responsible for paying rent on-time and maintaining a healthy and safe living environment.

Landlords must provide a residence which is habitable and up to building codes.

Here are some of the important points to know beyond those basics.

1. Lease Terms Must Be Specific.

If there is not a fixed term specifically stated on a rental agreement, then Louisiana considers this to be a month-to-month lease.

Tenants or landlords can terminate a month-to-month lease with 10 days written notice before the end of the month.

2. Late Fees Must Be Included In a Lease.

If a rental agreement does not contain any language about paying a late fee when a tenant misses a rent payment deadline, then Louisiana forbids landlords from charging one.

There are no set laws about how much a late fee which is legally included in a lease can be.

3. No Alterations Are Allowed Unless They Meet Or Improve Tenant Habitability.

Landlords must provide tenants with a private living experience.

This means in Louisiana, unless there is a need to make an alteration to come into compliance with expectations, a property must not be altered while it is occupied.

Tenants can make alterations, however, with landlord permission.

4. Louisiana Holds Those Who Cause Damage To a Rental Unit Responsible.

If a landlord fails to maintain a habitable living environment, then any needed repairs are their responsibility.

Tenants are responsible for their damage or damage caused by guests or pets which exceeds normal wear and tear.

If a landlord fails to make a needed repair for habitability issues and a tenant has provided them with a written notice and reasonable time, then the tenant may pay for the repairs and deduct a reasonable price from the rent.

5. Pet Fees Are Not Covered By Security Deposit Terms.

A landlord may or may not choose to charge a pet fee.

If they do, then this amount is not considered part of the security deposit, which is returnable after a tenant moves out.

These important points are just a few of the highlights presents under the Louisiana landlord tenant laws.

For specific answers to any questions you have that were not covered here, be sure to check with your local statutes or consult with a legal professional.

What Is the Eviction Process in Missouri

Sometimes a landlord has no choice but to begin the eviction process on one of their tenants.

Missouri offers landlords some specific steps which must be followed in order for this process to begin.

This formal process is required any time a tenant must be removed from a property, even when there is a potentially dangerous situation going on.

Most landlords will initiate the eviction process because of a failure to pay rent.

Any provision within a lease that is not met can also be grounds for the eviction process in Missouri to be initiated.

Evictions may also occur after a fixed term lease has expired without renewal or if a landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month tenant.

No Specific Amount of Time Is Required

When the issue is for the non-payment of rent, there is no specific amount of time that is mentioned in the landlord tenant laws of the state.

As a general rule, however, landlords should give their tenants 5 business days in order to pay any rent that is due.

The amount of the demand may include a late fee as well if the rental agreement allows for these fees to be paid.

Paying the rent, but not the late fee, may be an active defense for a tenant fighting an eviction.

If the rent is not paid after the demand has been issued and an appropriate amount of time has passed, then a landlord may proceed with a rent and possession lawsuit against the tenant.

This allows a landlord to proceed with the eviction process in Missouri and seek a monetary award for the amount due them at the same time.

A court date will be set. If a tenant fails to show up for the hearing, then a default judgment will be issued.

This may result in an order to leave the rental unit, monetary damages being awarded, or both.

The Unlawful Detainer Process

When the issue is different than a failure to pay the rent, landlords must pursue an eviction process that is a little different.

 

This is known as the unlawful detainer lawsuit. It is used to remove tenants who have not met some component of their lease or have failed to move out after their rental agreement has expired.

This lawsuit against a tenant follows the same process as the rent and possession lawsuit, but with one exception.

Landlords are not allowed to pursue any monetary damages under this eviction process.

The court will only issue a writ of possession if landlords are awarded the judgment and the Sheriff’s office or other designated official are the only people who can enforce the court order.

Tenants are given 10 days to leave after a judgment has been issued.

Tenants Have the Right to Appeal

Tenants may lose their case, but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the story for a landlord.

Tenants can appeal a judgment against them within 10 days of that judgment occurring.

While the appeal is pending, however, a tenant must post a bond with the court that is equal to any monetary judgment that has been made against them. If the tenant wins the appeal, then the money is given back to them.

If not, the court will give the money to the landlord instead.

An appeal must be filed within 10 days if a tenant is still using a rental unit. If no appeal is filed and the tenant is still holding possession of the rental unit after 10 days have passed since the judgment, a landlord can file for a writ of possession.

This allows the Sheriff or designated official to remove the tenant from the property.

What About an Expedited Eviction?

Some landlords may be able to request an expedited eviction process in the state of Missouri.

This is allowed when the eviction is because the tenants or their guests are engaged in drug related activities or has allowed people in the rental unit or on the property that the landlord has not allowed.

If tenants caused damage to a rental unit that is equivalent to 12 months of rent, this process may also be requested.

If a landlord attempts to evict a tenant on their own, then the eviction process doesn’t necessarily stop.

Self-help evictions do open up a landlord to the possibility of being sued by a tenant because Missouri considers such actions to be illegal.

Any damages that result from turning off utilities, switching locks, or removing the front door [or other actions not listed here] are determined by the court.

The eviction process in Missouri is a streamlined process which is designed to help landlords manage their property effectively.

As long as these steps are followed and appropriate legal counsel is available, this difficult task can become a little bit easier.

What Are the Laws for a Section 8 Rent Increase

When you are living in a qualified Section 8 rental property, then here's some good news for you: the landlord you have can't just decide that they want to increase your rent.

Landlords must make a request for a rental increase and then wait for it to be approved.

Tenants are not required to pay more rent unless they have been notified in writing by the governing housing authority that they must do so.

Rent increase requests that are deemed to be unreasonable or outside of what the fair market would allow are generally refused.

Tenants Can Have Their Rent Increased For Other Reasons

Landlords might need specific permission from their Housing Authority to increase the rent on their property, but tenants can see rent changes for a number of different reasons.

This won't affect the amount that a landlord receives, but it will affect how much of the rent that a tenant would be required to pay.

Here are some reasons why tenants would pay more every month.

  • The amount of income that a household receives has had an increase.
  • A tenant decides to move out of one rental property and into another one, including into a different apartment within the same building.
  • The Housing Authority that approves rent that is higher than payment standards.
  • Section 8 reduces the amount they pay to a landlord.

A tenant's rent in a Section 8 property can only be increased once per year and it can only happen on their re-certification date.

All tenants must receive a written 30 day notice of their rent increase for it to be valid.

What If a Landlord's Request For More Rent?

In most circumstances, the Housing Authority will pay the requested increase from the Landlord that has been approved.

It will not change the amount that a tenant has to pay in rent.

The only exception to this is when a landlord requests an increase that is higher than the payment standard and it is approved.

When this occurs, tenants can be required to pay the extra rent on top of what has already been agreed upon.

If HUD lowers their fair market rents, some Section 8 tenants might also find that they have large rent increases because of the standards of their property.

In both of these circumstances, tenants are required to have a 90 day written notice informing them of the increase.

These unique circumstances can also push a tenant's rent above the 40% income threshold that is generally allowed in this type of housing.

The rules are slightly different for tenants who have a diagnosed disability.

They may be able to request more assistance if a rent increase occurs, request having more disability accommodations that meet their specific needs, or other make other requests based upon their diagnosis.

Notification times are the same in these circumstances. It can be difficult for a landlord to get a rent increase for their Section 8 property.

By knowing what the laws are, however, the best chance to get that increase approved can be realized.

What Are Squatters Rights in Texas

Squatters might be an inconvenience to landlords and property owners, but they do have rights that cannot be violated. The first thing that anyone should do if they discover squatters on their property is to contact the police. If your home is actively lived in, then this may be considered a break-in and the squatters will be removed. If there isn’t any active living on the property and the squatters have set up utility accounts, you may need to take civil action instead. If your property is in Texas, however, you have an advantage when it comes to handling squatters. What are squatter’s rights in Texas? Let’s take a look.

It Takes 30 Years of Adverse Possession For Success

The conditions for squatters to be able to claim adverse possession are very difficult to achieve. The squatters must be living on the property continuously and without permission. They must also prove that they are behaving as the property owner, perform maintenance on the property, and reside their alone [or with their household]. Texas requires these conditions to be met for 30 years for adverse possession to occur. Texas also requires that all elements of adverse possession be in place for a deed to be drawn up in the squatter’s name. Because of the 30 year minimum requirement of living on a property, there are a lot of things that can happen. Witnesses to the adverse possession may move away or pass away. The legal owner of a property might be able to prove that they granted the squatters the legal permission to live on the property at any time during this 30 year period. If there is just one missing element to an adverse possession case, it will be dismissed. Only if all elements are in place and the squatters have been there for 30 years without permission will an adverse possession claim be considered successful. At that point, the property deed will be treated as if cash or other valuable goods were exchanged for the it. If there is any outstanding debt or liens on the property, they become the responsibility of the previous property owner, not the squatter.

What About the Affidavit Method of Adverse Possession?

Texas has a century old law that has a potential loophole in it regarding adverse possession. It was used in 2011 to allow Kenneth Robinson to move into a foreclosed home that was worth $340k. The loophole was deemed to be invalid, however, and Robinson was given an order to move out of the home. Robinson’s efforts inspired others to try moving into homes that weren’t theirs as well. The only problem was that 8 people actually moved into homes that were actively occupied. This caused charges of burglary to be filed against them and some defendants received sentences that included fines up to $10,000. Texas passed legislation in 2013 that permanently closed this loophole. The good news for property owners in Texas is that they have plenty of time to deal with squatters that might be on their land. The bad news is that if that property is being used for rental income, it means money is being lost every day. By knowing the rights of squatters in Texas, however, every property owner can take the actions that are necessary to claim their property back.

Outline of Tenant Rights During Construction

When a rental property begins to undergo a construction process, this is typically treated as a special circumstance by the leasing agreement.

Landlords have a right and often a duty to repair the property so that it is safe and secure to inhabit.

Unless the work is being completed within the interior of the rental unit, there may be very few remedies available to the situation from a tenant’s rights perspective.

If, however, the construction interferes with the quiet enjoyment of the property outside of the confines of health and security, then this may entitle a tenant to break the lease and seek out financial assistance from the landlord because of it.

What Can a Tenant Request if Breaking a Lease?

If construction allows a tenant to break their lease, then there are numerous ways a landlord may be required to compensate the tenant for their trouble.

Relocation Assistance. Landlords may be required to pay for moving costs and other fees associated with a tenant moving to a new residence. If the relocation is temporary, a landlord may be required to pay for hotel fees or the costs of moving to a new rental unit until the primary unit has been repaired.

Rent Reduction. Some jurisdictions allow a tenant dealing with ongoing construction to be entitled to a reduction in the amount of rent that is owed.

Actual Damages. If a landlord has permitted a tenant to operate a business out of the rental property and the construction impacts that business, then a tenant may be entitled to claim actual damages and losses that they have experienced.

The quiet enjoyment of a rental property is a rather vague term, which means each circumstance is evaluated on its own.

For someone who is single, working full-time, and rarely home except for the weekends, then no accommodations may be required for construction that happens on weekdays while the tenant is at work.

On the other hand, if a tenant has four children that are all under the age of 5, works full-time at home with an approved business, and has limited access to their rental unit because of the construction, the tenant may be able to make several claims.

This is especially true if the tenant can provide evidence that the landlord was aware of their living situation.

If the quiet enjoyment stipulation is violated, a tenant may have the right to sue for the nuisance that has been caused by the construction.

Some jurisdictions allow for a breach of contract lawsuit.

The construction company, each contractor, and even the laborers may also be allowed.

How Are These Two Rights Balanced?

There must be some give and take from both parties when there is construction involved with a rental unit.

Some jurisdictions do have specific policies and procedures to follow, but in general, the need to repair a property becomes a negotiating point in combination with the quiet enjoyment of the rental.

Normally a conversation or two regarding the situation can balance out each right so that everyone feels like they come out ahead.

If a landlord serves a notice on a tenant to temporarily vacate the premises without compensation, however, many landlord/tenant laws allow this notice to be ignored.

It is considered a breach of the contract to force a tenant to move when they have a valid right to be there.

If a landlord attempts to force a tenant out, even temporarily, then the only allowable method is typically to pay for all expenses during the construction period, including food and incidental expenses, while giving the tenant a time to return.

A 60 day notice for this type of temporary move is usually required as well.

Tenants may also have the right to call out building inspectors to determine if the building is remaining up to code during the construction process.

If the housing is deemed to be uninhabitable, then the landlord may have 24 hours to rectify the situation or risk the lease being broken with cause, meaning a tenant may be able to gain their full deposit back unless there are provable tenant-caused repairs that must be made.

For the most part, landlords should generally work on rental properties when there are no tenants in a unit to prevent this situation from ever occurring.

When emergency repairs are required or a unit needs to be updated, however, it pays to give tenants as much notice as possible and make it worth their while to put up with the noise if the problem isn’t their fault.

Otherwise that construction cost might not be the only charge that has to be paid.

Tenant Rights and Hot Water

In just about every jurisdiction, landlords are required to provide tenants with a living space that is safe, healthy, and livable.

The definition of what constitutes what must be provided to make the space this livable may vary, but one of the basic items that must be provided in every jurisdiction is hot water.

If there is a hot water issue within a home, then it generally qualifies as being a 24 hour emergency repair.

If the repair is not made after a written notification to the landlord is made, then the tenant may be able to break the lease without penalty.

Depending on where the property in question happens to be, a lack of hot water may also allow the tenant to take the following actions if they choose not to move out without notice.

  1.  Withhold their rent to make the repair on their own if there is no response from their written request for hot water repair.
  2.  Pay for the repair needed to have hot water again and then charge this cost to the landlord through an invoice.
  3.  File a lawsuit against the landlord for not providing conditions as indicated in the leasing agreement.

The reason why a tenant has these options is that landlord-tenant laws have an implied warranty of habitability included with every rental arrangement.

Tenants have an expectation to live in a home that meets their basic needs.

The structure should be intact, not develop mold, be susceptible to pests, and have hot water available.

What About Hot Water That Runs Out?

The provision that landlords must generally follow is to provide a “reasonable” amount of hot water.

This means a tenant can potentially use up all of their hot water and the landlord would not be liable for this fact.

For example: if a tenant takes a 45 minute shower every day and leave their child with no hot water for an additional shower, then this would be a tenant issue instead of a landlord issue.

Where shades of gray begin to form are in how the hot water is provided compared to the size of the household that occupies a rental property.

A single person, for example, could have a 20 gallon hot water heater and probably have their reasonable needs met.

If a landlord rents a home to a six person household, however, that 20 gallon hot water heater isn’t going to meet needs very efficiently.

In the latter circumstance, the 6 person household could have a potential claim against a landlord who doesn’t upgrade the hot water system.

Hot Water Is Considered a Major Repair

The problem that many landlords have with hot water repairs is that they tend to be expensive. If the hot water heater fails, then there is the cost of a new appliance and the emergency labor required to install it.

There may need to be additional plumbing repairs needed to install the new unit.

This type of repair could easily reach $1,000 or more, which might exceed the amount of rent that is paid each month.

Because hot water is considered an essential service and a tenant right, it is always considered a major repair because it is needed to provide habitable conditions.

Sometimes hot water can be considered a minor repair because it is being provided, but not in a way that is satisfactory to standards or preferences.

No hot water would be a major repair.

Having hot water that is heated to 5-10 degrees lower than what landlord-tenant laws stipulate would be considered a minor repair.

Both would need to be completed, but minor repairs can often be completed in a 10 day window instead of a 24 hour window.

 

If a hot water heater is leaking, but still providing hot water, then a landlord may wish to consider it a major repair.

After notifying a landlord of a leak, the tenant is not responsible for the maintenance of the hot water heater.

This means the water can get into the walls, flooring, and other components of the structure and cause additional damage to the structure that may make it eventually uninhabitable.

The statutes that govern hot water can vary somewhat from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there is always a requirement to provide a water supply and a way to heat it up.

You may be required to heat it to specific temperatures or provide specific amounts.

Check your local laws if you’re unsure to determine what tenant rights and hot water regulations must be followed so every rental unit can meet the legal standard.