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How to Run a Free Background Check on Yourself

Background checks are pretty common these days and are run for a variety of different reasons. Many people have been in a situation where they were required to have a background check done in order for the person or business they are dealing with to get a good idea of who they are and the history of their behavior.

While anyone these days can get online and search to find out personal information about someone via search engines and tell-tale social media pages, a real background check is so much more in-depth than that. Now-a-days, nearly every business, institution, and person you deal with on a financial or even personal level wants to know your history and what they can expect from you – and they find these answers by doing a background check.

From employers and property managers to insurance and loan companies…and even a new dating partner – it seems like everyone has a reason they want to do a background check and find out different information about you. Some are looking for financial information, others are looking to verify your education, while others want to know your driving history, or if you have been arrested. Background checks can show all of this personal information to just about anyone who searches, so you definitely want to ensure yours is completely accurate and up to date to make the best impression.

Is Your Personal Background Information Accurate?

While this background information on you is wanted to ensure you are creditworthy, an upstanding citizen, or simply to confirm that you did indeed graduate Magna Cum Laude as your resume indicates, it is important to know that background checks offer a detailed report that is very comprehensive. This means that the reports may also include personal items about yourself that you may not realize, including income, bank loans, criminal records, debts, as well as other private data.

Because of the sensitivity of this information, it is crucial that you are aware of exactly what people see when they run a background check on you. Savvy consumers want to know what details are being given out about them and what information businesses, financial institutions, and others can actually request, as there are some limitations that may apply.

Since these background checks can have a huge impact and effect on many areas of your personal and business life, it is recommended that you conduct a “do-it-yourself” (DIY) background check periodically to ensure the online records and details reflect a complete and accurate account of your history. Performing this research now and learning what others can see about you when they perform a background check, lets you prepare your online resume to pass a background test in the future.

Tips for Conducting a Free DIY Background Check on Yourself  

There are some simple steps you can take to review the information that others will see when they run a personal background check on you. In addition, there are some websites that you can visit that let you find out what information is circulating on the internet about your background that may need to be hidden from the public, corrected to be accurate, or completely removed. You just may be surprised at what you might find out about yourself!

To save money, you may consider the DIY approach for your background check. With the high-tech world we live in today, there are a variety of ways to gather information online and see everything that others can view about your history and give insight to your background. When you begin your background research and check of yourself, be prepared to find errors, omissions, and outright lies which will need to be corrected. While it is not fun to find any negative information about yourself online, you can rest assured that it can fixed with the proper documentation and by contacting the agency or organization responsible for the post.

Here are some of the different types of personal background checks you can run on yourself as well as some helpful websites that provide background information. Most institutions that require a background inquiry are very thorough and are likely to look into more than just a criminal background check, so it is smart to be prepared for them to see information about you from a variety of sources, including these:

How to Run a Free Background Check on Yourself

  • Search Engines – The quickest and most convenient way to begin a background search on yourself is to utilize internet search engines. They are free and easy to use and are a great way to get started just by entering your name. Also, be sure to do a search for any other aliases you may go by like a maiden name or previous married name. Make a note to yourself of which name variation has the information that needs to be corrected or deleted so you can resolve that issue once you have completed all of your research.
  • Social Media – Social media is the next place you should look to see what personal data or information is being broadcast online about you. Too often, we do not set our privacy settings on our social media accounts as well as we should, and unintentionally expose private information that we shouldn’t. Make it a point to view all of your social media accounts as a viewer of the page and not the owner, to see what information is available for the public to see. Check out your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts and adjust privacy settings as needed.
  • Public Records – When performing your own personal background check, do not overlook access to public records, which is very telling about a person. A simple online search can give access to a variety of personal records including marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce decrees, trials and court appearances, death certificates, and more. While you will need to do a search for each individual record you wish to view information about, it is all there and available for free public viewing for anyone to see.
  • Internet Domain Registration – If you own or manage a website of any kind, be sure to remember that anyone can do a search to find the IP address and data for those websites to see your association. This information can typically be easily found free in a “WHOIS” look-up via any domain registration company. In addition, companies like Domaintools will help determine all of the domains a someone might be associated with, giving an insight to their background, habits, hobbies, likes, and dislikes.
  • Credit Reports – Businesses of all kinds check your credit reports to verify creditworthiness. Anyone from employers to auto insurance companies to banks and credit card companies are checking to see your score, so it is definitely a good idea to check yours often. In fact, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. Visit today to get a copy of your credit report so that you can review it for accuracy. If there are any errors or omissions on the report, you will need to file a dispute to have the issues reviewed. They will determine the validity and make adjustments as needed. Be advised that this could take several months, so regularly monitoring of the report is crucial for good credit.
  • Insurance Reports – The insurance industry has their own industry-specific insurance screening companies that they use to determine the approval of your coverage. It is your right to receive a copy of your free specialty insurance report each year when you have coverage such as auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or personal property insurance. Simply contact the insurance company to request a copy of your report to check for accuracy.
  • Personal Medical Information – Viewing your medical specialty report is a good idea for those who intend to apply for or purchase any type of insurance policy including life insurance, health insurance, long-term care policies, or disability income insurance. Companies like MIB Group, the kind of reporting companies that the medical insurance industry and firms use to evaluate you, are also required to let you know what they are saying about you in their reports to these companies. Therefore, consumers are allowed to have one free report per year, which can be requested on their website here.
  • Social Security Number – It is a good idea to review your Social Security account periodically. This can be done on the Social Security Administration website, where you can easily see and verify all of the names that have been associated with your Social Security number over the years. This may include name changes due to marriage, divorce, and other legal name changes
  • National Sex Offender Registry –Visit the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website to check to see if your name is on the sex offender list if this is a concern to you in any way. The website allows anyone to search sex offender registries for all 50 states, The District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and Indian Country by entering a name.
  • Driving Record – Checking your driving record is a good idea, especially if you have a career that depends on your maintaining a certain type of license or status with your state. You can request a copy of your personal driving record through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure its accuracy. This can be done either online or by visiting a local office near you. It is also smart to check your driving records in any other state you may have had a driver’s license from in the last 20 years to ensure accuracy in their records.
  • Education – It is common practice for prospective employers to check your education by verifying your degree through your college or university’s records. Be prepared for this part of your background check by contacting the educational institution directly to verify that your record is accurate. In addition, you should request a copy of your transcript to keep on file for your personal records.
  • Criminal Record – Check to see if your conviction or arrest records (if any) are accurate by requesting them from the court that issued them. It is very important to know that any criminal convictions, paroles, probation, or jail time you have incurred will be reflected in this criminal background report and can be seen by others. In addition, please note that if you have been arrested within the last seven years, this may still show up on your record or background check even though there was not a conviction.
  • National Crime Information Center –The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), nicknamed the lifeline of law enforcement, assists law enforcement officers in performing their duties more safely. You can visit the National Crime Information Center website to see if your name is on the government fugitive database during your DIY background check.

Please be advised that the inclusion of your name in a negative way on any of these background reports or lists can have a major effect on your background check and can be a determining factor for several important decisions that banks, employers, landlords, and other institutions make concerning you. It is a smart decision to perform a DIY background check to avoid any issues in the future.

People Search Websites for Free Background Checks

Considering the vast amount of online resources available to investigate one’s background, it is obvious that the gathering of information can be very time-consuming. Fortunately, in addition to the websites, organizations, and resources listed above, there are several “people search” and other types of companies that specialize in background checks. These businesses were created especially to help you easily learn and identify what is in your records and online history.

If you do decide to use a background check service for your own personal background investigation, it is important to know which type of service you would like:

Types of Background Check Services:

  • Full-Service Background Check – A full-service background check is when the company does all of the investigative work for you. The company searches their online databases and may also visit courthouses to check for criminal history. They are also able to verify your past employment, education, and any other requested details.
  • DIY Background Check – A do-it-yourself background check can be done via websites that allow you to conduct online searches of your own and provide you with instant results. The online background check websites are typically inexpensive and very easy to use, offering instant results and plenty of background details.

Websites such as BeenVerified, TruthFinder, and Intelius are examples of companies that do the investigative work for you by gathering digital information quickly from public records that are readily available These free search options on the website will include background information on you such as:

  • Aliases
  • Cities and States Lived In
  • Age
  • Known Relatives
  • Social network profiles

These background checking companies offer dynamic search engines that allow you to find the information you are looking for via a search by simply entering a name, address, or phone number, for instant results. No matter what type of information you wish to find out about yourself, the search engines quickly gather and organize the data from public records, police records, social media, civil judgments, and white pages into an easy-to-read format to give you the requested background information and history you require on yourself.

If you find that  you need to expand the search for background information on yourself, details such as addresses and phone numbers can be found free of charge at websites such as Spokeo, US Search, and WhitePages which allows you to look up all the addresses that are associated with your name and/or Social Security number by performing a simple search.

In addition to the information available on these sites via a free search, each website also gives you the option to view a more complete background profile of yourself for a fee. If you find that there is a need for any type of additional verification of the information found while doing your self-background check, it may make sense to utilize one of the affordable paid service companies to investigate your background.

These companies offer an affordable alternative to tiresome research that not only saves you time, but offers a comprehensive background check that is reliable with access to credible, verifiable data for your search. Quickly and easily find information such as:

  • Public Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Reverse Phone Lookup
  • People Search
  • Email Search
  • Reverse Address Lookup
  • Background Check
  • Arrest Records
  • Sex Offenses
  • Details on Arrests and Plea Deals
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil Legal Judgments
  • Marriage Records
  • Social Security Number Verification


Benefits of Using a Background Check Company

While there are plenty of resources available online to perform a free background check on yourself, sometimes getting the help of experts in the field is the right solution. Here are some good reasons to use an established company for your own personal background check.

  • Affordable – Background screening companies offer affordable services with access to several levels of information discovery.
  • Safe – Access from reputable companies get you the needed information quickly, allowing you to promptly access what needs to be done to keep your personal information safe and sound.
  • Private – All background checks and searches you perform are completely private with the utmost of confidentiality
  • Access – Background searches provide access to over 20 billion public records and the best and most detailed information available online as well as from other resources including courthouse documents, former employers, and educational institutions.

How to Choose the Right Background Check Service for Your Personal Background Check

There are a variety of different background check services available today, so it may be difficult to decide which one is the best choice for you.  Here are a few tips to consider when looking for the right background service company for your needs.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Background Check Service

  • Does this service offer the ability to provide all of the information I need for my personal background check?
  • Is the cost of the service affordable to me?
  • Does the company offer an easy to use online portal that you can access to order searches and review the results?
  • How quickly am I able to access the search results?
  • How will I receive my search results? Are the reports clear, accurate, and complete?

Savvy Consumers Know What Is in Their Background Report

It is a good idea to do a periodic background check on yourself to see exactly what information others may have access to when conducting an investigation into your credit history, educational background, or criminal past. It is a great way to ensure that your reputation is protected, and you don’t lose any opportunities due to incorrect or outdated information that shows up in your background check.

Once you receive the results of your background check, be sure to examine the information thoroughly and promptly make request any necessary corrections if there are any issues with accuracy. Following these tips will help you run a successful, free online background check on yourself and know exactly where you stand.



How to Get a Real Estate License in 2020

Selling real estate is a popular and lucrative profession for many people across the U.S. The rules vary from state to state about the requirements for obtaining a professional real estate license, so it is important to decide where you would like to assist people with buying and selling properties to ensure that you are licensed with the proper state or states in which you intend to start your new career in real estate.

Here are the typical state requirements for becoming a licensed real estate agent in the U.S:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a legal resident of the US
  • Completion of required pre-license real estate school classes
  • Successfully take and pass the state real estate license exam
  • Background check and fingerprinting
  • Sponsorship by a licensed broker

State guides:

California Real Estate LicenseHow to get your license in New York  , Michigan real estate license and Florida real estate license.

It is also helpful to be familiar with the term real estate agent versus Realtor® and to know that not every real estate agent is in fact, a Realtor®. While both must be licensed to assist people in buying and selling properties, the Realtor® title is only given to real estate agents that are also a member of the National Association of Realtor’s. Most new real estate agents find that it is advantageous to become a member of the association, which is explained more in detail later.

Why You Need a Real Estate License

All states require you to be a licensed real estate salesperson or real estate broker to represent buyers and sellers who want to buy or sell a home.

Real estate licenses are issued by the government of each individual state. The state real estate license allows you to represent buyers and sellers in all legal real estate property transactions. To become a licensed real estate agent in your state, you must first be able to meet the state eligibility requirements, which are listed above, and may vary from state-to-state. When you are certain you qualify, you must then take all of the approved pre-licensure classes, successfully pass the real estate agent exam, find a broker to sponsor you, then finally apply to the state’s governing real estate board for approval and licensing. After approval, most new agents join the National Association of Realtors to add the prestigious title of to their credentials, which also gives real estate agents the following perks:

Perks of Being a Licensed Realtor®

  • Increases your earnings
  • Real estate software
  • Gives you access to the multiple listing service (MLS) to view all homes available for sale
  • Shows your credibility and helps you gain trust with clients and investors

How to Get a Real Estate License

From pre-licensing courses to continuing education classes, the more you know about real estate in your state, the more successful and lucrative your career as a real estate salesperson or real estate broker will be. Although each state does have different classes and hour requirements, many follow these general rules about how to become a licensed real estate agent. Here are the necessary steps needed to teach you how to get a real estate license in 2019.

A Successful Career in Real Estate Starts Here 

The cost of real estate school and continuing education classes and requirements differ from state to state, so make sure you check costs for the pre-licensing real estate school classes, registration to sit for the real estate license exam, and the application fee for the license so you will know exactly what to expect. New agents should be aware that they will be required to seek a real estate broker to sponsor them as they are getting started in their new career, which is typically a requirement for new real estate agents. You can find important information about the necessary sponsorships and other important details from the real estate commission website for your state.

The cost of real estate classes varies by state and institution but typically ranges somewhere between $350 to $1,000. The cost varies due to the number of course hours required from each state that is needed to sit for the state real estate licensing exam. Here are some typical costs involved with obtaining your real estate license:

Costs Associated with Obtaining Your Real Estate License

  • Pre-licensing Education at Real Estate School – $200 to $1,000
  • Real Estate Exam Registration – $25 to $100
  • Real estate License Application – $75 to $175

Additional expenses might include any state-required items like background checks and fingerprinting, as well as test preparation classes and guides, which can also vary in cost in each state. Those who are interested in becoming a Realtor® should be prepared to pay organization fees to the National Association of Realtors which are $150 annually.

Real Estate Courses – Pre-Licensing

To prepare for your real estate license, you must first take the pre-licensing classes needed to prepare real estate agents for the exam. All states require that these courses be taken before you can even think about registering for the exam. It is to be noted that each state’s required pre-licensing hours can vary greatly and range from 60 to 150 hours, so please plan you real estate coursework accordingly.

These professional courses provide a wealth of information to prepare you for a new career in real estate with classes that explain the important aspects of being a real estate agent  including:

  • Contracts
  • Titles
  • Real Estate Investments
  • Deeds
  • Fair Housing Laws
  • Finance and Mortgages
  • Real Estate Law
  • Real Estate Appraisal

…and more.

In addition, there are additional courses designed to teach you about your specific state as well as all federal real estate laws and regulations.

Choosing a Real Estate School

When it comes to selecting a real estate school, it is important to choose one that offers a state-approved pre-licensing course. Most states allow for convenient, online coursework for your real estate pre-licensing courses, including Arizona, Delaware, North and South Carolina, Idaho, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Rhode Island. It is recommended that you take the online courses if your state offers them due to the fact that not only is it more affordable, but it is also so much more convenient.

Once you have chosen a state-approved real estate pre-licensing course, you can either register online to enroll or visit the school’s website along with the state’s real estate commission website for information, courses, location, cost, and other important enrollment information you will need to be aware of.

Preparing for the Real Estate License Exam

You can sit for the state real estate licensing exam when you have completed the real estate pre-licensing courses and successfully passed the final exam for the course of study. You’re your time and ensure you know the materials and take the test when you feel like you have studied and are completely prepared to sit for the final exam. This can be scheduled online via your state’s real estate commission website.

You will be scheduled for the exam when you have completed the online registration with the state, and will receive notification of your exam time, location, and date. Be sure to schedule your real estate license exam as soon as you can after the completion of your real estate school classes, because most states require that the exam be taken within a certain number of days of completing your coursework.

The exam will be timed, so be prepared to answer the test questions quickly, yet efficiently. Make it a point to answer the questions you are certain of and come back later to any that you are not sure of. This allows a higher percentage of correct answers on the exam. You will be notified about your test results online or via mail, depending on your state’s preference.

If you fail the exam, this may be frustrating, however, don’t fret, because you are allowed to retake the real estate exam. You can register to retake the test a mere 24 hours after notification of failure to pass the course. In addition, you can take the exam up to three times each year. Feel free to visit your state’s real estate commission website to register or to get more information.

You’ve Passed the Real Estate Exam – Here’s What to Expect Next

You are now well on your way to becoming a licensed real estate agent. Once you have successfully taken the real estate exam and passed, most states require that new real estate agents find a broker to sponsor you.

Having a broker sponsor you gives you the hands-on training and experience needed to be successful in the industry. It is recommended that in order to successfully find a sponsor that is a good fit for you, make time to review brokers in your area and schedule sponsorship interviews with each of them. Here are some questions you should be prepared to ask your potential broker during the interview:

Interview Questions a New Real Estate Agent Should Ask their Prospective Sponsors

  • Commission Split – Since most real estate agents get paid on commission, it is important to know that you will be splitting the commissions with your broker. There are several different types of commission structures, so be sure to discuss and possibly negotiate a commission split that satisfies your needs.
  • Support and Culture – There are many variations of types of brokerage firms, so look for the style that suits you best. While some brokers offer extensive mentoring and free training and marketing opportunities, others simply offer an office to call home while you grow your real estate business. Ask questions to help determine if the broker offers what you are looking for.
  • Fees and Other Costs – Make it a point to ask the real estate brokers you are interested in working with about any fees and other costs that are associated with their company. Do your research to ensure that the fees are common in the industry. Such costs may include desk fees, printer and copier fees, transaction fees, insurance, and more.

Doing your homework and asking these important questions will not only help you learn about each broker and their pertinent company information, but it will also help you make an educated decision and choose a broker that is a good fit for your goals. Having a broker that you will enjoy working and mentoring with makes all the difference.

It is important to note that new agents must have a sponsoring broker before the application for a license can even be submitted to your state’s real estate commission. After you have chosen a sponsoring broker and have a signed sponsorship agreement to submit, you are ready to submit the agreement and application for your license to the real estate board. It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks up to a few months for the application to be approved, depending on your state’s period of consideration. When the board has approved your real estate license, most states send out an email confirmation, followed by the license and official approval letter in the mail.

I’m a Licensed Real Estate Agent, Now What?

You have passed your real estate exam, secured an agreement with a sponsoring broker, and have received notice of the approval of your license – so it is time to get to work helping people buy and sell homes! Here are a few tips to help you get started in your new career as an agent.

  • Join Industry Associations – It is crucial for your career in real estate to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as soon as you can. The NAR is the largest professional association for real estate agents in the U.S. While becoming a member is not a requirement to buy and sell real estate, it is required to list properties and have access to the Multiple Listing Service. In addition, the NAR offers a variety of agency resources, including valuable networking opportunities, real estate software, continuing education resources, and a special designation among agents. To join the National Association of Realtors, visit their website for the application, and pay the annual membership dues of $150.
  • Create a Website – Real estate agents will need a website of their own. It is important to plan for the expense of having a website designed for your new career in real estate in addition to the one your agency has. Maintaining your own business website allows you to create your own brand and get your name out there. This includes choosing a domain name, designing a logo, finding a website host, selecting a theme, and ensuring you are connected to a hosting company with IDX capabilities, which allows you to connect to the MLS so your website visitors can easily search the available property listings for sale.
  • Select a Contact Relationship Manager – As a real estate agent, you will need a customer relationship management (CRM). This is a type of software that helps you keep track of your leads and organize clients from first contact all the way through to the closing. Choosing a good CRM allows you to stay organized and engaged with your client leads and track the progress you have made with them as clients. Look for a good free CRM to get started and graduate to a paid service once you have clients. Make sure that your new CRM is easy to use with popular features to keep you as efficient as possible.

Maintaining Your Real Estate License and Keeping an Active Status

Just about every state requires a real estate salesperson to renew their real estate license every two to four years. This requires continuing education courses in real estate to make sure you are up to date with any new laws, rules, or regulations. Your state real estate commission website can provide the necessary requirements for maintaining your real estate license and keeping it in an active status.  In addition, members of NAR can find useful information about requirements and continuing education courses in your area.

Your Career as a Licensed Agent

From required pre-licensing courses needed to pass the state real estate exam to finding a sponsoring broker, and creating a new brand, there are many things a prospective new real estate agent must do to prepare themselves for a successful career in real estate.

Savvy potential real estate salespeople begin by learning all of their state’s licensing requirements about how to get a real estate license. They then make a professional plan from there to complete real estate school for the required pre-licensing classes, pass the licensing exam, find a broker to sponsor them, and secure their real estate license for a successful career in the real estate industry.


Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws

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.

Virginia disclosure requirements

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:

  • Owner/Agent: Landlord must disclose in writing the name and address of the owner or agent of the property. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12)
  • Military zone: If the property is in a locality where a military air base is located, the landlord or his authorized agent must disclose the fact that it is in a noise or accident potential zone.  (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12:1)
  • Mold: The move-in report should include whether there is visible evidence of mold; if affirmative, tenant may terminate the contract or not move in. If the tenant opts to stay, the landlord must get the mold issue handled within five days, get the property inspected again and issue a new report indicating no evidence of mold exists. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.11:2)
  • Utility billing: Any landlord that uses a ratio utility billing service, or who intends to collect monthly billing, administrative or late fees, must disclose the existence of these fees in the written agreement. (Va. Code Ann. §55-226.2)
  • Condo plans: If any application to register the complex as a condo or cooperative has been filed, the landlord or authorized agent must disclose that information to prospective tenants in writing. (Va. Code Ann. §55-248.12(C).)
  • Drywall issues: If a landlord knows of unrepaired defective drywall in the unit must disclose this fact in writing before the tenant signs the rental agreement. (Va. Code §55-248.12:2.)
  • Move-in checklist: Landlord or tenant, but ideally both together, must prepare a written report that details the condition of the rental unit. This must be done within 5 days of move-in. Any presence of mold must be noted and handled. (Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.11:1)
  • Local ordinances: Check with the city or county for additional disclosure requirements specific to the area.

Virginia Security Deposit Rules

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.

Small claims for landlord-tenant disputes

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.

Virginia lease, rent and fee rules

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. 

Notice and Entry Rules

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 The site is user-friendly and searchable and does not require you to know the code numbers to find what you need.



Nebraska Landlord Tenant Laws

Landlord Tenant Laws of Nebraska

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.

What’s in a Lease

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.

Security Deposits

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)).

Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities

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.

Details, Details

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:

  • Rent due date occurs on first of the month or at the start of a monthly period. §§ 76-1414(3)
  • Increase in rental rate notice as written lease allows. §§ 76-1414(1)
  • Late charges will apply as agreed. §§ 76-1414(1)
  • No grace period is allowed. Rent is due as agreed.  §§ 76-1414(3)
  • Late fees are allowed. §§ 76-1414(1)
  • Rent paid in advance can be for any owing rent at the time of vacancy. §§ 76-1416(2)
  • Rent withholding for failure to supply basic services, including heat and water is allowed with written notice and the costs are reasonable. §§ 76-1427
  • Recovery of attorney’s fees by the landlord is not allowed to be a provision in any lease. However, a court may award this action if circumstances warrant. §§ 76-1415(1)(c)
  • Landlords are required to keep damages toward tenant at minimum. For example, getting the property rented again will reduce the amount of rent owed in a broken lease, taking possession after thirty days after property is abandoned. §§ 76-1405 and §§ 76-1432(3))

Entry and Required Notices

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.

Maine Landlord Tenant Laws


                       Summary of Landlord Tenant Law in Maine

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

– 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)

Fees, Rent and a Lease

– 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.

Entry and Notices:

– 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)

Miscellaneous Notes and Disclosures

– 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))

Maine has a court limit for small claims of up to $6,000. You can also visit the Maine’s Realtors Association or the District Court of Maine.


Maryland Landlord Tenant Laws

Maryland landlord-tenant laws

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:

Maryland Law on Security Deposit

•    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.

Disclosures and other miscellaneous laws in Maryland

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 inspection of the rental unit (in order to come up with a list) must be conducted in the presence of the tenant. However, the tenant may request this list to be mailed to him/her.

•    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.

Rent & Other Fees

•    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.

Tenant Right to Withhold Rent in Maryland

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.

Notices and Entry laws in Maryland

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.


New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Laws

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.

What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in New Hampshire?

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.

Security Deposit Rules

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.

Lease, Rent and Fee Rules

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.

Notice and Entry Rules

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.

Required Disclosures and Notes

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.

Small Claims Court

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.

Realtor Associations in New Hampshire


New Jersey Landlord Tenant Laws

Renting in New Jersey

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.

Where are New Jersey Rental Laws and Regulations?

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.

Finding Your Rental

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:

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.

Before You Agree to The Lease

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.

Paying Your Security Deposit

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.

Protecting Your Security Deposit

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.

Rent Rules – Tenants

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.

Rent Rules – Landlords

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.

Landlords can only evict you for specific reasons as outlined by law.  These reasons include:

  • 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.

Landlord Entry and Access

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.

Disagreements with Your Landlord

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.



New Mexico Landlord Tenant Laws

New Mexico Landlord Tenant Laws

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:

The Required Landlord Disclosures and miscellaneous notes in 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):

The Duties of a Landlord (§ 47-8-20)

•    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.

The Duties of a tenant (§ 47-8-22)

•    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 Laws on Security Deposits

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.

Small Claims Lawsuits

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.

Lease, Rent & Fees

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.

New Mexico Entry Laws

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.


Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Laws

Navigating Landlord Tenant Laws in Rhode Island

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.

The Importance of the Lease

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

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.

Notices and Landlord Entry to the Property

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.

Other Regulations and Requirements

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.

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