Just like in every state, it is vital that both landlords and tenants understand what the laws are that pertain to their business relationship. Understanding the basics of state law allows both parties to deal with most legal problems or questions without the need for an attorney. Let’s take a look at those basic laws in the State of Virginia so that you will be prepared, no matter whether you are the landlord or the tenant in the arrangement.
In Virginia, landlords are required to disclose specific information upon conception of a rental agreement. This information ranges from the landlord’s name and address to anyone else that is authorized to act on the behalf of the landlord, to the condition of the property and move-in date:
In Virginia, state laws put a limit on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, when it must be returned to a tenant, and they also offer other restrictions on Virginia security deposits.
Nearly all residential rentals in Virginia will require a security deposit to be paid to the landlord. This dollar amount is typically one month’s rental payment, and is used by the landlord to pay for any damages caused by the tenants to the unit that are over and above normal wear and tear. The security deposit can also help if a tenant does not honor the terms of their lease agreement. This summary of Virginia laws pertain to security deposits:
Security deposit limit: A landlord may not charge any more than two months’ rent for a security deposit.
Security deposit return: When a tenant moves out, a landlord is required to return their security deposit within 45 days. Tenants have the right to be present at the final inspection as well.
Security deposit interest: Landlords must pay their tenants interest on their security deposit; the rate is calculated based on the Federal Reserve discount rate at the beginning of the year. Security deposit interest is only due after a landlord has held it for more than 13 months.
You can look up the actual Virginia statutes on security deposits at Virginia Code Annotated § 55-248.15:1. Keep in mind that the particular city or county might have different, or additional landlord-tenant laws or security deposit rules.
Disputes over security deposits take up the greatest percentage of landlord-tenant suits in small claims court. In the event you have a disagreement over security deposits, it is important you know that a tenant can sue his landlord in small claims court, up to a limit of $5,000. For additional information, your local realtor’s board can offer a good place to look.
Typical lawsuits of this type are filed by tenants against their landlords who they feel withheld their security deposit money without good reason. For their part, landlords often feel justified in retaining the deposit for cleaning, repairs or any rent that remains due and payable. Here are a few rules for hammering out a solution in court:
Know the law: Be sure that you understand the relevant state rules, and know that the landlord has a 45-day window to return your deposit, after itemizing any deductions. Tenants have the right to be present at the final walkthrough.
Know what your landlord can deduct: Your landlord is permitted to use your security deposit for some items; if you owe unpaid rent without giving notice, for instance, or unpaid utility bills or other obligations according to your rental agreement. Repairing damages caused by you, your pet, or any guest can be deducted, unless it is “ordinary wear and tear”. Cleaning charges can only be deducted to the extent that the unit is as clean as it was when tenancy began. A landlord can also charge you for undoing any changes that you made; for instance, painting the bedrooms a bright color or leaving hardware on a wall where a flat screen TV once resided.
Attend the final inspection: While some landlords would prefer to do this and send out itemized statements, Virginia law does require that the landlord give his tenants the right to be present at the final inspection. Using a landlord-tenant checklist upon both move-in and move-out is wise to protect both parties.
Photos and videos: Pictures and videos can go a long way in court, should it come down to that. Renters would be really smart to photograph or video every room in the rental unit upon move-in, and again before they leave the premises, resulting in a matched set of photos to prove the condition of the property.
Request your deposit: If your landlord has not returned your deposit by the end of the 45-day period, you should ask for it in writing. Spell out the facts, tell him or her that you expect them to comply with state law, and let them know that a lawsuit is forthcoming if necessary. Not only does this give your landlord the chance to return your deposit, it also helps build a case for court if it is needed. The letter also makes it more likely that punitive damages will be awarded, since the landlord failed to follow the law as it pertains to security deposits. Send your letter certified mail with a return receipt; keep a copy of the letter and the delivery receipt you get from the post office.
File your suit: If you get no response, or a less than adequate response, from your landlord, you can file in your local small claims court right away. It typically costs less than $50 to file, and attorneys are not needed. Expect it to take a month or two before your case comes up.
In Virginia, there are several issues related to rent that the state regulates. For instance, how much to allow for a bounced-check fee or how long a tenant has to pay their rent before a landlord can file for eviction.
Your rental agreement or lease contract will outline your key rent rules, including your rental amount, where to pay your rent, when and how your rent should be paid, and how much notice a landlord has to give you if they intend to raise your rent. There should also be provisions for a bounced-check fee, late fees and termination procedures.
Late fees are not regulated by the state, but if your rental agreement does not make note of them, the landlord cannot charge you a late fee.
Virginia does address bounced check fees, and limits the amount to be charged to $50, pluse any amount charged by the landlord’s bank.
Virginia does not regulate how long landlords have to give tenants a notice if they intend to raise the rent and they are on a month-to-month tenancy. However, the typical standard is 30 days and the rental agreement should spell out the procedure in this case.
There are a number of other landlord-tenant laws (Va. Code Ann. §§ 55-217 to 55-248.40) that people need to be aware of when entering into a rental agreement on either side. These include the landlord’s right of access to their rental property, protections against landlord retaliation, protections for domestic violence victims, and housing discrimination issues.
Landlord access is available when he or she requests it 24 hours in advance. However, if the tenant requests and requires maintenance, this does not apply. (Va. Code Ann.§ 55-248.10:1)
Tenants are protected from landlord retaliation after a tenant complains about an unsafe living condition. (Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.39)
There are additional, special protections available for tenants who are domestic violence victims, specific procedures for handling abandoned property tenants leave behind, and a ban on discriminating in rental property. (Va. Code Ann. 55-248.15:1; 36-96.3)
For further information, Virginia’s entire code is online at http://legsearch.state.va.us/. The site is user-friendly and searchable and does not require you to know the code numbers to find what you need.
Every state has their own set of statutes that govern the relationship between landlord and tenant, outlining property rights, occupation rights, entry rights and other particulars such as security deposits, rent amounts and due dates. In Nebraska, like in other states, these rules and regulations are set out to protect both parties and to make clear what is expected from both parties regarding their responsibilities.
There three separate statutes that protect the parties in a landlord tenant relationship; statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 76-1401 – 76-1449, called Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 76-1450 to 76-14,111, called Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act and statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2301 to 69-2314, called Disposition of Personal Property Landlord Tenant Act. We will discuss some of the most basic statutes governing rental property, but this is not intended as a replacement for legal services, simply a guide to help navigate the rental landscape. If you find yourself in a conflict that you can’t resolve, seek legal advice.
Although many agreements have been made between tenant and landlord without a formal lease, it is unwise to rent without one. A lease protects both landlord and tenant, providing a written record of several factors such as pertinent information regarding the condition of the property at the time of possession, deposit amounts, rental period, rental rate, length of tenancy and other important information such as whether or not pets will be allowed on the property. Renting without a lease is like working without a net; it can be done, but is risky and someone can get hurt. Keep things clear in your landlord/tenant relationship with a written record in the form of a lease.
Nebraska makes no statute regarding interest, the account that the security deposit will be held in, non-refundable fees; records kept regarding the deposit with holdings, receipt of deposit, and failure to comply. Nebraska does govern other aspects of the security deposit, such as the amount allowable. Nebraska statute §§ 76-1416(1) limits the amount of security deposit to on month’s rent plus a pet deposit if they are allowed and the tenant has a pet. The same statute limits the amount of the pet deposit to one fourth of the amount of monthly rent.
Return of the security department must occur two weeks once the tenant makes a written demand for deposit return and provides and address to send it too, or when tenant provides a delivery alternative for receipt of deposit. However, a portion of the deposit (§§ 76-1416) can be used for unpaid rent or damages caused by tenant that violate the Tenant’s Duties, which are a series of responsibilities that must be maintained by the tenant. Additionally, landlords must supply tenant with an accounting and description of damages along with a list of charges for the damages. (§§ 76-1416(2)) Objection to deposit withholding will be heard in Nebraska small claims court where the maximum award is $3,000 (§§ 25-2802(4)).
In an effort to reduce landlord/tenant disputes, Nebraska statutes outline rights and responsibilities and remedies. Among these are the Landlord’s obligation to the tenant or Landlord’s Duties, which include rules governing housing code compliance, maintenance and repairs, care of common areas, trash removal, water and heat. Statute §§ 76-1419 specifically outlines the landlord’s responsibilities toward caring for the property and provision of basic services. Similarly, the Tenant’s Duties provide regulations the tenant must follow under Nebraska statute §§ 76-1421. The tenant must adhere to basic housing code compliance, including codes that require the tenant keep the unit up to code and in livable condition. Cleanliness, trash, damages, appliances, plumbing and trash are regulated under the Tenant’s Duties.
Additionally, the code includes provisions for the quiet enjoyment of the property, meaning that the tenant and the tenant’s guest must not disturb the neighbors. There are also provisions requiring tenants to obey all house rules such as home owners or condominium rules. The tenant duty statute also assures tenants of disclosure regarding the presence of lead. Should the tenant find conditions of the property require notification of health authorities, this statute protects said tenant from retaliatory evictions, rent increases or such actions.
Nebraska has in place a number of details that help both landlord and tenant create a fair lease. The only issue Nebraska statutes fail to address regarding tenancy deals with early termination and abandonment of the property. However, Nebraska does make several statutes that assist in governing tenancy such as:
Often a bone of contention between tenant and landlord is entry into the property after the tenant has taken possession. To keep things calm, the wise legislators of Nebraska have chosen to create certain statutes regarding entry and required notices. Nebraska statute §§ 76-1423(1) requires that landlords provide tenants with a 24 hour notice before entering and it must be during reasonable hours. This statute also covers entry for showings and for maintenance. Emergency entry is allowed under Nebraska statute §§ 76-1423(2). This same statute also allows for entry during extended absences. Entry for pest control is not covered under Nebraska law.
On a lease that has a predetermined end of tenancy, no notice to vacate is required as it is understood the lease expires and the tenant is expected to vacate. A monthly tenancy requires a 30 day notification §§ 76-1437(2), weekly leases require a 7 day notification §§ 76-1437(1). If a tenant fails to pay rent, a three day notice to vacate can be served §§ 76-1431(2). Nebraska statute §§ 76-1436, protects tenants from utility shutoffs and lockouts.
Finally, notice for termination because of lease violations in Nebraska require the landlord to provide a written notice, informing the tenant of the violation, giving the tenant 14 days to remedy the violation or vacate the property within 30 days. Should a second violation occur within the six months of the first, a 14 day notice to vacate can be served. The notice must contain the specific violation and the date the lease agreement shall end §§ 76-1431(1).
Keep in mind that the best way to avoid conflicts that end up in Nebraska small claims court is to communicate and work with your landlord or tenant. A great landlord tenant relationship can be rewarding for both landlord and tenant. If you have any issues you can’t resolve, mediation may be available in your area.
If you truly are dealing with any kind of residential rental units, you need truly to read about Maine landlord-tenant laws. This important article is just about these laws. This information is truly reliable because we used the important Office State Statutes write this article. In addition to this, we just used reputable municipal sources so that you just can have peace of mind about the reliability of this piece of information, so you just have to read on to find out more.
Since landlord-tenant laws just change very often from one country just to the other, you just need to do your homework and truly apply these laws to any of your particular circumstances. If you truly need these services, you should just contact your state bar association, and this place is where you can find a useful attorney referral service, which should truly have a license to just operate.
– Security Deposit Maximum: This is 2 month’s rent. (§6032)
– Security Deposit Interest: This is just not required in just any way. (§6038)
– Separate bank account just for security deposit: You may not combine in any way your security deposits with just any other kind of fund. However, a landlord may just use any single account just in order to hold any sort of security deposit from her or his tenants. If a tenant wishes to know the account number of just any kind of security deposit, this landlord must disclose this just to the tenant along with just the name of the financial organization where this account is held. (§6038) (6039)
– Returning security deposit – this is the deadline. For any kind of written rental agreement, you just have to return the deposit within just the time that was truly agreed to in a particular agreement. However, you should not just exceed thirty days just in any way. If you just have a tenancy at will, you should truly get your security deposit just within twenty-one (21) days right after your tenancy has just expired or the acceptance and surrender of these premises you live in, whichever just happens later. (§6033)
– Rent is due: This just happens as you have just stated in your lease.
– Rent Increase Notice: You should just get a rent increase notice just from your landlord after 45 short days of having given any written notice. (§6015)
– Late fees: You should not just be charged more than this 4% of your important monthly rent just as late fees. In addition to this, your landlord have to notify you in writing at the important moment that you have just signed the contract that you will be just charged 4% of your important monthly fees as just late fees. (§6028)
– Prepaid rent: There is just no statute for a prepaid rent.
– Returned Check Fees: Truly a landlord will get his or her amount due, service costs, court costs, processing charges, and just collection costs only if just a statutory notice is just given to the tenant. In addition, the tenant should have failed just to make a payment within just ten days of notice. (§6071)
– A tenant may just withhold payment if he or she just cannot get any sort of essential service such as heat, water, and other services. If any landlord just fails to pay the utility bills that she or he must just pay, you may deduct just this amount from your rent. (§6010-A)
– A tenant is just allowed to truly deduct rent and just make some repairs. This is just possible if habitability is compromised and the true cost of this compliance is just less than five hundred dollars, or if this important amount is just equal to half your important monthly rent. (§6026(2))
– In some instances, you are just allowed to get both your court fees and the important attorney fees back. (§6034) (§6025(2))
– A landlord must do anything just to lessen the damages that are caused to any tenant, and this truly includes a re-rent option. (§6010-A)
– There is no statute just for early termination/abandonment fee.
– There is just also a rent grace period of fifteen days if the important tenant was not able to pay a landlord on time when the important monthly payment was due.
– Fixed End Date for your Lease – Notice just used to Terminate your important Tenancy. Your landlord just might give you the important notice to just to terminate your tenancy if you just have broken any important lease term. However, a contract should state that just a violation of that particular term is just truly a breach of this truly particular lease. (Maine Consumer Rights- Chapter 14.7)
– Notice used just to Terminate your Tenancy – Notice language or any written lease with no termination. If you the contract has no termination provision to deal with a material breach, a landlord must give any tenant a termination notice that is just valid for 30 days. This termination notice have to state that the tenant just has the right to contest this important termination notice in court whenever this person wants to. A landlord may just also give a tenant a termination notice just in case of a nuisance, criminal activity, damages, and non-payment of rent. This short notice must give a tenant just 7 days to get out of the premises. If a landlord just has substantially breached any provision of any lease, the tenant may just give the landlord a seven days’’ notice at just any moment. (§6002) (§6001(1-B))
– Notice used just to Terminate your Tenancy. Tenancy at will. The tenant should just get a thirty days’’ written notice as a minimum. (§6002)
– Notice used just to Terminate your Tenancy. Week-to-week lease.The tenant should just get a thirty days’’ written notice as a minimum. (§6002)
– There is no statute for just a termination of tenancy that uses a 24-hour notice.
– There is no statute for just time/date of any move-out inspection.
– There is no statute for just nonpayment of any notice of termination that is just based on just a week-to-week lease.
– Notice of termination due to just nonpayment. A tenant should get a seven days’ notice – in writing – from any landlord if he or she is just 7 days or even more late when it just comes to payment of any rent. (§6002)
– Security-deposit bank account. If a tenant just needs to know any account number of any kind of security deposit, a landlord just must disclose this to the tenant along with it the name of the financial institution where the account is held. (§6038)
– Domestic Violence Situations: There is just no statute for domestic violence situations. There is just a coalition in Main that aims at just ending domestic violence. So a tenant or landlord should just use this resource to deal with any domestic violence at any time. In addition, the housing authority of Maine has a list of resources that anyone can just use to deal with this type of problem as well. (Coaltition to End Domestic Violence in Maine)
– Covenant of Habitability: As everybody knows, if a landlord just rents a unit to any tenant, this unit should be fit for humans. A tenant may head to a Superior Court or District Court if the tenant does not get an effective and prompt remedy to a problem that makes the unit unfit for humans. However, the tenant should not have caused this problem to have the right to receive compensation for this issue. (§6021)
– Heating. Unless a contract states alternative options in just writing, a unit’s heater must be capable of keeping the important temperature of sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. This must be done in the event that a landlord is obliged to give a tenant a heater. (§6021)
– Utilities and Heat in any Common Area: A lessor just may not, in any way, rent out any kind of unit where a tenant just has to pay for electricity or heating in any common area that is just placed outside that particular tenant’s rental unit. However, a lessor can do that if a fair consideration has been agreed to, and this must be done in writing. (§6024)
– Retaliation. A landlord should expect retaliation from a tenant if within a period of 6 months prior a tenant has just asserted some statutory rights. (§6001(3))
As a landlord or tenant, you do not have to pay a lawyer every time, for a consultation on matters related to renting residential property; this is especially when you are conversant with the fundamental Maryland landlord-tenant laws. If you have never thought about looking at these essential rules, then here is your chance! Below is a look at some of the essential landlord-tenant laws you should be conversant with as a landlord or tenant in Maryland:
• Most of the leases or rental agreements will require a tenant to part with a security deposit. According to Maryland landlord-tenant laws (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(b)(1)) a tenant can only pay a deposit of up to an equivalent of 2 month’s rent.
• Security deposit of $50 or more shall accrue interests of up to 3% per year (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(e). According to the law, this interest (not compounded interest) should accrue after every six months.
• Under Md Real Property Code, 8-203, the security deposit shall be remitted in a separate bank account; this account should be in a state financial institution
• The deadline in which the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit is set at 45 days; after which the tenant has the right to sue the landlord for up to 3 times the deposit amount. The tenant may also sue for a reimbursement of the attorney fees used; but this should be a reasonable amount (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(e).
• An itemized list of damages and deductions made on the security deposit should be provided to the tenant by the landlord.
Maryland landlord-tenant laws require the landlord to make some disclosures to a tenant before he/she signs the rental agreement. These disclosures will usually be contained in the lease or rental agreement, hence, the need for a tenant to carefully read their agreement before signing it. Here are some of these disclosures under (Md Real Property Code 8-203.1):
• The landlord is required by the law to make a list of all the damages that existed before the commencement of the tenancy.
• The tenant has the right to receive a list of all the damages that occurred to the rental unit during his/her tenancy. This inspection should be conducted in the presence of the tenant, but the tenant may opt to receive a certified mail containing this list.
• The landlord-tenant agreement must contain a statement of the legal penalties a landlord will incur as a result of failure to comply with the security deposit law. This penalty is a refund to the tenant of up to 3 times the security deposit withheld, and the landlord is also required to pay the attorney’s fees.
• The lease must include a statement which states that the premise will be made available to the tenant in a condition that allows habitation and safety. The lease must also contain the tenant’s obligations such as to water, heat, electricity and gas. (Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.]8-208)
• The agent or owner identity must be disclosed in the lease agreement; and if the landlord has handed his/her responsibilities (for instance, receiving and issuing notices) to another party, then their identity must be disclosed in the agreement. (Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.]8-210)
In addition, Under Md Real Property Code, 8-203), a landlord is required to give a receipt for the security deposit received. This receipt does not have to be a separate document; it can be included in the landlord-tenant agreement.
• No statute in Maryland landlord-tenant law dictates the conditions for rent increase; however these rules do exist in some counties in Maryland.
• If a landlord is renting out five or more residential units, then he/she must draw up a written lease agreement under Md Real Property Code, 8-208).
• Maryland landlord-tenant laws specify a maximum of 5% late fee penalty of the rent due. If the rent is remitted on a weekly basis, then a maximum of $3 per week should be charged as late fees (Md Real Property Code, 8-208(d).
• Under Md Real Property Code, 8-401 the tenant has a right to pay the owed rent, so long as the eviction process or trial has not ended.
Maryland tenants have the legal right to withhold rent or ‘repair and deduct’ rent but only under justifiable conditions. For instance, in the event the landlord fails to take action to repair or maintain the property. (Md Real Property Code, 8-211).
Maryland landlord-tenant laws on Small Claims Lawsuits
Under Maryland laws, a tenant has the right to sue his/her landlord for the return of their security deposit, up to an amount of $5,000. The small claims court usually hears these cases.
Maryland landlord-tenant laws do not give a guideline on the landlord’s right to enter or access his/her tenant’s rental unit. For instance, there is no instruction whether or not the landlord may access the property with or without notice for maintenance and repairs. However, the law in this state is clear on the notices to be issued, including:
• The required notice to terminate a yearly lease is set by law at three months, but for farm tenancies, the notice is six months. However, this is not the standard rule across all counties in Maryland, as two months notice is required in Montgomery County (expect in single-family homes) (Md Real Property Code, 8-402(b)(3)
• A one month notice is required (giving the intention of the landlord to terminate a lease), in a month to month tenancy. While a one week notice is required in a week to week tenancy. (Md Real Property Code, 8-402(b)(3) and (Md Real Property Code, Real Property, 8-402(b)(3)).
• A landlord is required to issue a notice of the day and time he/she will conduct the move-out inspection; this is to allow the tenant the opportunity to be present during the inspection.
• A five days eviction notice can be issued under law, to a tenant for non-payment of rent.
• A 30 days eviction notice can be issued out by the landlord for a lease violation. However, if this violation can cause danger to other people or tenants, then a 14 days eviction notice may be issued( Md Real Property Code 402.1)
Maryland landlord-tenant laws are meant to offer a legal guideline on the landlord-tenant relationship. It is important to be aware of your rights as a tenant and as a landlord, so as to be able to act according to the law in the event an issue arises. It is also important to note of the fact that there are local ordinances which are usually passed at the county level in Maryland, which may also dictate the landlord-tenant relationship such as health and safety standards and noise control in a residential rental unit.
The state of New Hampshire has strong protections for renters, and the laws are very detailed and specific. It is very important for both landlords and tenants to be familiar with state and local statutes before entering into any rental agreement.
The wording of New Hampshire law, which stipulates that landlords must show “good cause” to evict a tenant, virtually ensures that landlords will have to take tenants to court if they fall behind on their rent. These cases are heard in circuit court, and the courts generally try to work out reasonable payment arrangements as long as the tenant is willing and able to pay. The good news for landlords is that these cases take little time to hear, sometimes as little as a few minutes.
While the information below comes directly from state statutes and is accurate at the time of this writing, it should be noted that this is not meant to be legal advice. A qualified lawyer should be contacted with any legal questions or concerns.
Rules that govern leases in New Hampshire are largely covered by N.H. Rev. Stat. 540 and Rev. Stat. 508. There are also some special laws for manufactured housing parks that are addressed under Rev. Stat. 205-A.
New Hampshire additionally makes a distinction between “restricted” and “unrestricted” rental properties. Business or non-residential property is always classified as unrestricted. Residential property can also be unrestricted if it is a single-family home owned by someone who does not own more than three such units, a rental unit in a building that has no more than four such units, or a single-family home acquired by a bank through foreclosure. All other residential property is considered restricted. These definitions can be found in Rev. Stat. 540-A:1.
New Hampshire has strong law governing security deposits, but it only applies to landlords who own and rent out more than one single-family residence, or who rent out residential units in a building that has at least five such units. Tenants in a multi-unit residential building who are age 60 or older have special status as spelled out in Rev. Stat. 540-A:5.
Where applicable, the maximum a landlord can ask for a security deposit is the equivalent of one month’s rent. Interest must only be paid if the deposit is held for longer than a year. The rate of interest paid must be equivalent to a savings account at a state bank. The interest is to be paid once every three years, no later than 30 days before the expiration of the current rental agreement.
Landlords may mingle all their deposits in a bank account, but it cannot be an account that they have personal funds in, and if they do this they are required to pay proportional interest to each tenant who has monies in that particular account. Landlords must provide the name of the bank, account number and interest rate upon request. Landlords are also required to issue a receipt for any security deposits if they are not paid with a check. More details can be seen in Rev. Stat. 540-A:6.
Landlords are required to provide written notice of any items in the unit that are in need of repair within five days of the tenant moving in. When the tenant moves out, the landlord must provide an itemized list of damages if they intend to retain part or all of the security deposit. Deposit monies can only be withheld for unpaid rent, payment of any real estate taxes the tenant is liable for, and damages caused by the tenant. Otherwise, the security deposit must be returned within 30 days of the end of the lease, under Rev. Stat. 540-A:7.
There are no statutes regarding pet deposits or non-refundable fees.
Landlords who retain a security deposit in bad faith can be held liable for twice the amount of the deposit and any interest due. The tenant is required to disclose their new mailing address to the landlord, however, and if they do not make contact within six months the landlord is entitled to retain the deposit and interest under Rev. Stat. 540-A:8.
There are no statutes governing late fees, application fees, a grace period for rent payments, prepaid rent, or abandonment of the lease by the tenant.
Landlords must give tenants 30 days notice of a rent increase, under Rev. Stat. 540:2. For returned checks, they may collect all associated costs plus the amount of the check, and if these are not paid within 14 days it can be considered a felony under state law. Landlords are allowed to recover fees from court cases that they win. There are no statutes for tenants to repair and deduct from rent or withhold rent for failure to provide services, but tenants can legally block an eviction if they can show they have given notice of habitability issues and the landlord failed to address these issues within 14 days, under Rev. Stat. 540:13.
Rev. Stat. 540:3 establishes that 30 days notice is needed for a tenant to terminate most leases. This is also the required term for a landlord to terminate a lease due to a violation. A landlord may end a lease for nonpayment with seven days notice, but the tenant may make payment during that time to reinstate the lease. Landlords also cannot initiate this more than three times in a 12-month period. There are no statutes addressing termination of tenancy with only 24 hours notice.
Notice for entry by landlords is generally allowed with a time period that is adequate for the circumstances. There are no statutes on entry during an extended absence, for pesticide use or for scheduling a move-out inspection.
Lockouts and utility shutoffs are never allowed under New Hampshire law. Landlords who engage in a “self-help” eviction can be held liable for the greater of $1000 or three times the actual damages, and this amount is tripled if it can be demonstrated that the landlord knowingly violated the law. This is covered by Rev. Stat. 358-A:10.
Rev. Stat. 48-A:14 makes clear the conditions under which a dwelling can be considered habitable. Landlords may not lease a unit if it violates any of these terms. Both tenants and landlords must respect the quiet enjoyment rights of everyone living on the premises.
There are some special protections for those who have experienced domestic violence under Rev. Stat. 540-2:VII. Landlords may request proof of this status. Once established, the tenant cannot have their lease terminated unless they fail to pay rent, and the landlord must replace their locks upon request at the tenant’s expense.
Landlords cannot retaliate under New Hampshire law, though these regulations do not apply if the tenant is overdue on a week or more of their rent. If a tenant quits the property, the landlord is required to store and maintain their property for seven days. The tenant can recover their property at no cost during this period. The landlord may dispose of the property if the tenant does not claim it within seven days.
The small claims court limit in New Hampshire is $7,500. Eviction cases are heard in circuit court. Both oral and written contracts have a statute of limitations of three years.
Many people choose to rent rather than buy these days. Renting an apartment or house may be the best choice for you if you are not ready to invest a significant amount of money in a home. If you’re thinking of renting in New Jersey, be aware of the laws and regulations regarding security deposits, rental rules, your responsibilities as a renter, and your right to have a secure, safe place to live when you rent.
There are several places where you can find the actual laws and regulations pertaining to leasing or renting in New Jersey. The New Jersey Statutes Annotated contain most of the laws, but some of the state regulations appear in the New Jersey Administrative Code. If you are doing any in-depth research on tenant or landlord issues, be sure to consult both of these sources, or get the help of a librarian. Sometimes cities and townships have their own local ordinances and codes as well.
You can find New Jersey rentals by looking on your own. But you also have the option of hiring a realtor or a rental referral agency to help you with your search. The following links give you some options:
South New Jersey Rentals (Homeless to Independence)
Apartment Finder (New Jersey)
Rentals in New Jersey aren’t cheap, so if you are having trouble finding a place you can afford, see if you are eligible for subsidized rent through the Section 8 voucher program. Landlords cannot refuse you as a renter for participating in Section 8.
Rental contracts or leases in New Jersey do not have to be written. If you are considering entering an oral agreement to rent a place, make sure you understand the terms. Ask questions, and request something if writing, if you would feel more comfortable. Though the landlord is not required to provide a written contract, if he/she does it must be written in “plain language,” that is, it cannot be full of difficult-to-understand legalese.
A monthly lease renews automatically unless you or your landlord give notice for change.
A year-long lease may be renewed, or default to a monthly lease if it is not renewed.
Before you make an agreement, there are a number of things you should check out:
Make sure the premise has a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the local housing inspector.
Check the place out, and look for signs of disrepair.
If there are repairs to be made request that your landlord provide a written list and description of those items.
Understand how are utilities paid. Are you responsible for the payments, or are they included with your rent? Your lease should make that clear.
In general, read the lease carefully, and make sure you can agree to the terms. You are also afforded by law three days during which your attorney can look the contract over.
Before moving into your new place, you will likely need to pay your first month’s rent and supply a security deposit. Security deposits in New Jersey have some specific requirements as covered by the state’s Rent Security Deposit Act. For example, these monies are to cover such things as:
Failure to pay your rent. Your landlord can take rent money from these funds if you do not pay.
Damage to the property. If it’s normal wear and tear you’re off the hook, but if you break the dishwasher, you may lose some of your security deposit.
Other circumstances as specified in your lease.
By state law, security deposits cannot exceed 150% of the rent, and must be kept in a separate bank account by the landlord.
According to the New Jersey Rent Security Deposit Act, you must receive a receipt for your security deposit within thirty days of paying it. Without this receipt, you may have more trouble getting your deposit back later. Beyond that, you should be presented with documentation showing where the funds are deposited, and how much interest they are earning as they sit for the tenure of your occupancy.
Follow the rules of your lease. You should find standard wording that includes some very common sense principles for tenants. These include:
Pay your rent on time.
Do not willfully damage the property or its appliances.
Do not conduct illegal activity on the rental premises.
Follow any “no pets” clause your landlord has spelled out.
Provide your landlord a 30-day noticed before requesting to break your lease.
There are certain circumstances whereby the law allows you to break your lease without penalty. Among these are:
Death of a spouse.
You have a disabling accident or injury.
You are eligible for an assisted living facility.
You have a right to safe housing – this is one of the obligations landlords have to their tenants. Your rental dwelling should be up to local codes for safety, which includes the climate control standards established by the state of New Jersey to keep you warm in the winter.
Failure to pay your rent.
Allowing the apartment or home to become a hazard from garbage or neglect of regular tenant maintenance.
Being disorderly or disruptive after being warned by the landlord.
You have been found guilty of illegal activity such as drug trafficking or gang involvement.
Unless there is an emergency of some kind, your landlord should request permission before entering your rental apartment or house. This usually occurs for maintenance inspection, or if repairs to an appliance or other structural problems are necessary.
You are not required by law to supply the landlord with a key to enter the structure. Neither does the law prescribe that you make the premise available for the purpose of showing it to another potential tenant. Of course, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to comply with a reasonable request if you can. Be aware that there may be wording in your written lease that addresses this issue.
Even in the best of circumstances, people will disagree. Both you and your landlord should follow the laws and codes of the state of New Jersey. If a problem occurs, try to talk it out and either find a solution or a compromise. If you’ve tried your best, and think you are being treated unfairly or unlawfully, you may take your landlord to a New Jersey Small Claims Court. For a detailed and clear descriptions of the options and processes available to you, consult the Tentants’ Rights in New Jersey brochure. You can find more information about issues such as:
Mediation vs. court procedures. Court-facilitated mediation can saves everyone time and money.
Court-ordered repairs. A judge can order your landlord to make repairs to rental property they have neglected.
Common defenses against eviction notices and how to defend yourself.
The New Jersey Tenants Organization (NJTO) can put you in touch with local agencies that may be of assistance.
The New Jersey Judiciary Small Claims Court brochure outlines how the system works.
New Mexico Landlord Tenant Laws exist to govern and guide the relationship that exists between tenants and landlords. Having knowledge of these basic yet highly relevant laws will help you deal with any situation that may arise concerning renting out units as a landlord or renting a unit as a tenant. Below is a review of some of these important laws in the state of New Mexico:
Under New Mexico Landlord Tenant laws the owner of a rental unit(s) or the landlord is required to disclose the address, contact details (phone number) and the name of the person authorized to manage the rental unit(s) or stand on behalf of the owner of the premise. This is for purposes of receiving any notices and demands of the tenant (§ 47-8-19).
The landlord is also required to issue the tenant with a copy of the lease agreement before the commencement of the tenancy. The lease agreement may contain the duties of the landlord and those of a tenant which include (under the law):
• Compliance: the landlord is required to comply with the set laws/housing codes regarding health and safety;
• Repairs: Make the necessary repairs needed to make the rental unit habitable and safe to live in;
• Maintenance: ensure that the following are well maintained and are kept in good working order: elevators, plumbing and electrical systems, air conditioning, sanitary areas and more.
• Common Areas: the landlord is also required to keep all common areas, which are shared by the tenants in a clean and safe condition.
• Compliance: A tenant in New Mexico is required to comply with the laws and housing codes, which particularly affect health and safety;
• Trash: the tenant is required to dispose of all garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a safe and clean manner;
• Cleanliness: the tenant should keep the part of the premises he/she occupies in a clean and safe condition. Upon the end of the tenancy, the tenant is also required to ensure that the rental unit he/she held is in a clean condition (with the exception of the normal wear and tear).
• Appliances: the tenant should use all appliances including air conditioning systems, electrical and plumbing systems and more in a reasonable and safe manner.
• Damage: the tenant shall not deliberately or negligently damage, deface, destroy or remove any part of the rental unit or allow someone else to do so.
• Quiet Enjoyment: the tenant is required to conduct him/herself in a manner that allows other residents /neighbors in the premises to enjoy their residency peacefully.
• Rule Observance: tenants shall abide by all the rules and regulations, covenants and by-laws of any neighborhood association, cooperative housing agreement and condominium regime that are not inconsistent with the landlord’s duties and rights.
Damage: the tenant shall not deliberately or negligently damage, deface, destroy or remove any part of the rental unit or allow someone else to do so.
New Mexico Landlord Tenant laws allow the landlord to collect a security deposit, to cover the cost of damages and repairs the landlord may have to cater for at the end of a rental lease agreement. Also, the deposit may be used to cover the utility costs and any outstanding rent owed to the landlord by the tenant. This deposit is set at a maximum of one month’s rent for rental agreements whose duration is less than one year(§ 47-8-18).
For rental agreements that are annual and which the landlord requires a security deposit of more than a month’s rent, the landlord must pay an annual security deposit interest. This interest must be equal to that permitted by the federal home loan bank board to the savings and loan associations.
The deadline for returning the security deposit to a tenant is 30 days upon the termination of tenancy. Also, the law requires the landlord to make an itemized list describing the damages done to a rental unit by the tenant, and the cost of these damages.
If a landlord fails to provide the tenant with a written list of deductions or to comply with the 30 days refund policy on security deposits (or the remaining balance of the deposit), then under the law the landlord forfeits the right to retain any part of the deposit for whatever reason. In such an event, the owner may also not bring up any counterclaim in the event action is brought by the tenant to recover the deposit. The landlord is, therefore, liable for any reasonable attorney fees or court costs that may be incurred by the tenant in a security deposit lawsuit.
Residents are allowed to sue landlords in the small claims court which is the metropolitan court located in Bernalillo County. The Magistrates Court may also hear such cases from the rest of the state. Only cases demanding for a maximum of $10,000 may be arbitrated upon by these courts (§ 34-8A-3). Eviction notices can only be filled in the district or magistrate court.
According to (§ 47-8-15), the tenant is required to make timely rent payments on the date specified on the contract. If a landlord needs to increase the rent amount or terminate the tenancy, he or she must give the tenant a 30-day written notice, if the lease agreement is a month-to-month one. On the other hand, if the lease agreement is a fixed one then the landlord should issue 30 days notice before the end of the contract period. The late fees penalty is as defined in the lease agreement. However, these fees should not exceed 10 percent of the monthly, weekly or yearly rent that the tenant pays.
If the landlord fails to fulfill the stipulated obligations (as defined under the law and as per the rental agreement), the tenant is allowed under the New Mexico landlord-tenant legislation to withhold rent. However, no statute allows the tenant to repair and deduct rent for repair or maintenance purposes.
A landlord must give a seven-day notice/request to the tenant if he/she plans to enter the rental unit for purposes of repairs. A 24-hour notice is also required before entry by a landlord for other purposes such as inspection of the property by a public official, installation of services such as cable television and more. (§ 47-8-24)
The landlord may also issue a notice to the tenant to allow entry for purposes of showing the premises. Entry is allowed without any prior notice in case of an emergency, under the New Mexico landlord tenant laws.
New Mexico landlord tenant laws can be of great help to a landlord or a tenant who is faced with a challenging legal situation. For instance, if you are a former tenant and your security deposit has not been reimbursed accordingly and on time, you will know which action to take when you have knowledge of these laws. These laws can also help you handle a situation on your own without necessarily having to consult a lawyer or seek any legal help.
Renting can be a sticky wicket for both tenant and landlord, so the good state of Rhode Island has created to statutes to help protect the interests of both parties. Rhode Island statute Residential Landlord and Tenant Act ref. § 34-18 covers many situations and issues that are common in a landlord tenant relationship. Additional ordinances that are relative regarding remedies for grievances are covered under Limited Actions statute § 9-1-13. These rules and regulations that govern landlord tenant relationships protect both parties, ensuring that should something go awry, there are legal remedies in place to help injured parties.
When looking for a rental property in Rhode Island, contacting the Rhode Island Association of Realtors can help you find the perfect place, and help you understand the terms of a lease. We have compiled some of the most common regulations here, but if you have an issue with your landlord, you should seek advise and do your own research.
Although many rent without signing a lease, it is a really bad idea. A lease is a legal contract that binds both the tenant and landlord to adhere to a set list of behaviors and actions that are related to the tenancy. For example, a lease will contain a move in date, the length of the leasing period, what is allowed such as pets or smoking, the day rent is due and how much, grace periods, the amount of the security and pet deposit, any fees, and a copy of the move in walk through checklist. Many of these items are often regulated by states to help keep things fair and equitable between landlord and tenant. There is no statute governing a copy of the lease, so make sure you ask for yours and receive it to protect your rights.
In Rhode Island, the rental due date is governed by statute § 34-18-15(c) and is to be paid according to the lease or at the beginning of the month if no lease exists. There is no statute governing a grace period, but it is not uncommon to have a 5 day grace period written into the lease. The landlord is allowed to charge 25 dollars for a returned check fee collection fee if the returned check is not made good within thirty days. The landlord may charge the tenant three times the amount of the check but no less than $200 but no more than $1000.
If the landlord wishes to raise the rent, a 30 day notice must be given before the date of the increase unless the tenant is 62 years or older. In this case, a 60 day notice is required. There are no statutes governing late fees, but your landlord may include them in the lease. Prepaid rent is to be returned for any period after the termination of the lease must be returned within 30 days of the end of tenancy according to statute § 34-18-15(5).
If the landlord fails to provide the tenant with essential services such as water, heat and trash removal when the lease requires, a tenant can deduct the amount needed to supply the services from the amount of rent paid, but must follow the guidelines in statute § 34-18-31. When landlords fail to affect timely repairs, tenants are allowed to make the repairs after giving a 20 day notice if the repairs will cost less than $125. Additionally, the tenant must supply the landlord with and itemized list of costs incurred making the repairs § 34-18-30.
When a tenant abandons the property or the lease is terminated early the landlord may not impose a fee, but may collect any unpaid rent or other obligation such as costs of summonses after the tenant vacates the property§ 34-18-15(4). In this type of situation, landlords are required to make a reasonable attempt to reduce the amount of damages to the tenant by re-renting the property to reduce the amount of rent left in the lease period § 34-18-40. Finally, statute § 34-18-38 allow landlords to recoup legal fees as they relate to eviction for remaining in the property after the lease has terminated, or failure to release the property.
Security deposit rules vary widely from state to state. In Rhode Island, a security deposit is limited to the amount of one month’s rent according to statute § 34-18-19(a). Although some states have statutes requiring the security deposit be deposited into a separate account and the accrued interest is regulated as well as rules governing the receipt of the deposit or deposit withholding. Statute § 34-18-19(b) regulates how landlords may use deposits and limits us to repairing damages outside of normal wear and tear and for unpaid rent. A written list and description of damages and costs must be sent to the tenant under statute § 34-18-19(b). Landlords must return security deposits within 20 days of lease termination and vacancy of the property or when the tenant provides a forwarding address for the deposit to be sent § 34-18-19(b).
If for any reason the landlord fails to comply with the rules regulating the return of the deposit, the tenant may seek reparations in small claims court. Tenants may sue for the amount of deposit due, plus twice that amount in damages § 34-18-19(c). In Rhode Island the maximum award is $2,500.
Often a bone of contention between landlord and tenant is entry to rental property by the landlord. Rhode Island has passed a number of statutes that govern notices and entry of the property, which helps both parties know what to expect, reducing conflicts. No statute governs fixed end date lease. There is also no statute governing notices for move in or out inspections that specify date and time. There is also no statute governing entrance for pest control.
The landlord must notify tenants of the address and phone number of the property manager for the purpose of receiving notices § 34-18-20. Statute § 34-37-1 protects domestic violence victims from lease termination or refusal to renew.
There are a number of regulations that pertain to entering the property, notices regarding failure to comply with the conditions of the lease and many other circumstances. Rhode Island Statute § 34-18-37(c) requires tenants to provide a 90 day notice of intent to vacate on leases with a year lease period. For a month to month, a 30 day period is required § 34-18-37(b) and a 10 day notice is required on weekly rental periods§ 34-18-37(a).
If the tenant fails to maintain the property according to Tenant Duties, the landlord may enter to affect repairs and send the tenant a notice asking for the cost of the repairs § 34-18-39. If the tenant fails to pay rent, after fifteen days the landlord may give the tenant a five day notice of eviction. Eviction may commence on the 6th day after mailing said notice § 34-18-35.
A landlord may give the tenant a 20 day notice to quit tenancy if the tenant has violated the lease. During these 20 days, the tenant may remedy the breach and remain in the property unless the notice is for participating in drug activity or a violent crime. If the tenant commits the same sort of violation again within six months, the landlord may evict with a 20 day notice and the tenant is not allowed to remedy the violation § 34-18-36.
The landlord is allowed to enter the property for maintenance, showings and other official duties either in an emergency or non-emergency after giving tenant the appropriate 2 day notice and may make entry during reasonable hours according to statutes § 34-18-26(a), § 34-18-26(b), and § 34-18-26(c).
The landlord is not allowed to effect an eviction using lockouts and statute § 34-18-34 provides tenants with remedies should the landlord attempt this tactic. Similarly, the landlord may not shut off utilities either and the same statute provides remedies if this tactic is attempted.
If a tenant violates certain laws, such as drug possession, commits a violent crime or has violated a city ordinance or violated the terms of the lease by disturbing the peace, the landlord may file to evict immediately without any notice § 34-18-36(f). Statute § 34-18-22.1 requires landlords to notify tenants in the event of a code violation within 30 days to every tenant unless the violation is remedied within that 30 day period. Any tenant moving into a building with a current code violation must be notified.
There are several regulations and requirements covered in statute § 34-37-1, which covers the Landlord Duties. Tenant Duties are described in statute § 34-18-24. These duties are numerous and relevant so each party should read the statutes to be fully aware of the obligation each party has. Some of the items included determine the landlord’s responsibilities regarding trash, maintenance, common areas, basic services and repairs. The tenant’s duties include cleanliness, lawful activity, controlled substances, and retaliation.
As mentioned, we can only cover some of the most asked about issues. We highly recommend that you research the statutes completely to understand your rights and responsibilities as landlord/ tenant.
Rental law in Texas is generally favorable to landlords. However, there are protections for both landlords and tenants included in state statutes, and it is important for both parties to have a general knowledge of these regulations in case a dispute should arise. This article focuses on state statutes that apply throughout Texas, but keep in mind that there may be added statutes at the individual city and county level, especially in areas where the state has no formal laws or terms.
For tenants, tornado insurance is absolutely vital in the parts of Texas where they are known to touch down. Texas state law does not guarantee that a tenant can terminate a lease in the wake of a natural disaster if the dwelling is still deemed to be at least partially usable. Local codes may offer more protection, and landlords will generally show compassion and work with tenants when a crisis occurs, but the only absolute guarantee of protection is a form of renters insurance that covers tornado damage.
New Texas landlords or those who may be getting back into property management after an absence should note that the state made significant revisions to eviction rules in 2013 that apply to all counties. Small counties where precinct judges are not available full-time are now required to set dates for eviction hearings within a window of 10 to 21 days from filing. Landlords are also now required to take every tenant on the lease to court.
The information listed here is accurate and current as of the date of publishing, but should never be considered to be legal advice or to substitute for the assistance of a qualified lawyer who is licensed to practice in the state.
The general law that cover rental agreements in Texas is Title 8, Chapter 91 (Landlord and Tenant General Provisions). Title 8, Chapter 92 further establishes regulations for residential tenancies, while Chapter 93 covers commercial tenancies. Landlords and tenants should also be aware of Title 15, Chapter 301, better known as the Texas Fair Housing Act. Condo owners and renters will want to review Title 7, Chapter 32, the Uniform Condominium Act.
Texas has very little in the way of statutes at the state level regarding the terms of security deposits. What rules there are can be found in Property Code Chapter 92, Subchapter C.
Landlords must return a security deposit within 30 days of the end of the lease. If they retain any money for damages, they must provide an itemized list of their charges, unless the tenant still owes rent at the end of the lease. The landlord is considered to have returned the security deposit on the date that it was postmarked. The 30-day period does not begin until the tenant provides the landlord with their forwarding address, but the tenant cannot waive their right to the deposit by not providing such an address.
If a landlord is found to have retained a security deposit in bad faith, they can be held liable for three times the amount of the deposit plus $100 and the court and attorney costs of the tenant.
There are no state statutes governing the maximum amount of a security deposit, the paying of interest, or where the deposit is kept. Pet fees and other miscellaneous fees are allowed and there are no statutes governing them, but it is important to check with the local city and county to see if they have any added regulations.
Fees and withholding terms are governed by Chapter 92.012.
There are no requirements for a landlord to provide advance notice of a rent increase. There are no limits on returned check fees, but late fees must be “reasonable” under the wording of the statute.
There are no statutes allowing the tenant to withhold rent for failure to provide needed utilities. However, tenants do have some right to make repairs and deduct rent if they give prior written notice. They may only deduct $500 or the equivalent of one month’s rent in a year, however.
Both landlords and tenants are allowed to recover court and attorney fees if they win a court case. Landlords are allowed to terminate a lease immediately if a tenant is convicted of public indecency. If the tenant leaves for any reason prior to the end of the lease, however, the landlord is obligated to attempt to mitigate damages including making every reasonable attempt to re-rent the unit.
Utility shutoffs are never allowed in the state. Texas is one of the very few states that allows lockouts if a tenant breaks the lease, but only in certain narrow circumstances governed by Chapter 92.0081. Landlords cannot do this unless the tenant is delinquent in their rent, and must place a written notice on the front door that instructs tenants where to go to retrieve the new key. The new key must also be available 24 hours a day. The landlord must also be immediately available after they change the locks. Landlords who change locks illegally can be held liable for one months rent by the tenant.
Rules about notice and entry are covered under Chapter 91. Tenants generally have to give one month’s notice to terminate their lease, but landlords can agree to a shorter term in the lease if they choose to. There are no statutes governing advance notice of a move-out inspection.
Landlords have to give tenants three days written notice if they are evicting for non-payment. The tenant has the right to bring payment current during that time to restore the lease, however. There are no statutes governing termination for a lease violation, but landlords have the right to evict a tenant immediately if they are convicted of public indecency.
State statute does require the landlord to give some amount of advance notice before entering the premises, but it does not specify an amount of time. 24 hours is a general industry standard. There are no statutes about entry during an extended absence by the tenant or about emergency entry.
Required disclosures are covered under Chapter 92.014.
Landlords are required to identify their own name and address in the lease, as well as that of any property manager that might be appointed. If a tenant notifies the landlord of needed repairs and they cannot or will not make them, the landlord is required to provide tenant with written notice of their right to repair and deduct from the rent (as described in the Lease, Rent and Fee Rules section above).
Texas does offer some protection for domestic violence victims under Chapter 92.016. A residential lease can be terminated early if the landlord is provided with a copy of a protective order or a temporary injunction that is part of a divorce proceeding. If the perpetrator of the domestic abuse lives with the victim, the victim can terminate the lease immediately with no penalty. If the perpetrator lives elsewhere, the victim must give 30 days notice to terminate the lease without penalty. They can request that the landlord change the locks immediately at their expense, however. Landlords are also required to inform their tenants of these rights in writing.
If a tenant passes away, the landlord has the right to remove their personal property after 30 days if no one has claimed the items. They are required to send notice by certified mail to the point of contact that they have on record.
The small claims court limit in Texas is $10,000. Evictions are heard in small claims court in the state, but may not be filed by companies that primarily make their income by lending money at interest or by collections agencies or agents.
You’ve found the perfect apartment or house to rent in a new town – congratulations! Getting moved in and unpacked will keep you occupied for a while. Before you get too settled, though, understand how the laws of Washington State affect tenants. What are your rights and responsibilities as a renter? Regardless of whether your new digs are in Seattle, Spokane, or Wenatchee, the same rules apply. Review the information and links below to better understand your obligations – and welcome to Washington!
Please note, much of the information below applies specifically to apartment and home renters. If you are renting a mobile home, or are in a subsidized home program, consult WashingtonLawHelp.org.
Before moving into your new rental home, it’s likely that you will need to place a security deposit with your landlord. Terms of the security deposit should be outlined in your lease, however, there are some things you should know before turning those funds over. Security deposits typically cover:
There is no maximum amount of deposit. However, if you are having trouble coming up with the funds you need, you may qualify for assistance.
One can hope that a landlord will be honest and deal fairly with you, but even under the best of circumstances, there can be differences of opinion. Before you fork your deposit over, follow these guidelines.
For any type of lease or agreement you enter, try to get a copy in writing from the landlord. The lease will spell out the details of the rental contract, as well as any rules and expectations between the renter and landlord. Generally, this will provide you information about the kind of agreement you are signing up for.
The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act of 1973 outlines rent and fee rules between renters and landlords. For example, here are some of the obligations the landlord must fulfill while you rent from her/him:
Landlords can evict you, but only with just cause. They must give you 20 days written notice, and cannot simply lock you out of the place.
As a tenant, you have obligations as well. Some of the more significant of these responsibilities are to:
Being a responsible tenant will go a long way toward ensuring you get your deposit back, and establish a good rental record for the future.
It’s possible that there will be costs associated with your rental apartment or home beyond rent and your security deposit. A cleaning fee, for example, may be a refundable fee that you will have to pay before moving elsewhere – regardless of how well you try to clean the place.
Some renters are obligated to pay an “application fee” – that pays for keeping the apartment or house available to you while you are going through the process of signing papers, and putting up your rent and security deposit.
Whether it’s to make repairs, or show the place off to a new potential renter, your landlord has some rights to enter your apartment (or rental house). But they must first give you notice. In the state of Washington, unless there is some emergency, landlords must provide two days’ notice before entering the rented premise to take care of repairs or to inspect. If your place is being shown to a potentially new renter, your landlord is obligated to give you only one day’s notice.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW 59.18.060) outlines the duties of landlords, including information they are required to disclose to you. When you rent an apartment or house from someone, you have the right to know:
In the best of all worlds, there wouldn’t be problems between landlords and tenants. If you have differences with your landlord, first try to settle them yourself or through a mediator. But if you can’t come to an agreement about a money issue such as your security deposit refund, the amount of rent you owe, you may have to file a complaint in claims court.
Small Claims Court is designed to settle financial disputes $5000 or less – which fits most landlord-tenant disputes. There are no lawyers or juries in Small Claims Court, and it cannot help you retrieve belongings from your landlord, or make him/her take any action such as repair the water heater. If you have a claim, go to the district court where your landlord lives to file.
If you need more information on renting in Washington State, or are currently searching for a place, these links may be useful.