Rental property owners want to maximize their profits and protect their investments, while their tenants want to reside peacefully in the rented house, with their personal rights intact. Tenant-landlord laws have been established precisely to ensure that the two parties get what they want.
It is important for both parties to understand these laws and make sure that they are aware of their legal rights and obligations.
Some of the major tenant-landlord laws are:
Federal Tenant-Landlord Laws
The Fair Housing Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act are the two main federal laws governing the tenant-landlord relationship.
According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, color, race, familial status, origin, religion, or disability. Furthermore, the act restricts landlords from marketing or advertising their properties to specific groups of people.
Meanwhile, the Fair Credit Report Act defines the ways a landlord can use a tenant’s credit history for the objective of screening. According to this act, landlords cannot run an applicant’s credit report without their permission.
Additionally, landlords are obligated to supply information about the credit reporting agency they used and inform the applicant if they were denied tenancy based on the credit report’s information.
State Rental Laws
These laws concern practical matters such as landlords and tenants’ responsibilities and rights, terms and conditions that can (or cannot) be laid down in a lease agreement, guidelines for lease termination, and how evictions are to be handled.
State laws also often dictate the maximum amount landlords can charge as security deposits, how to legally handle the deposit funds, and the usage of trust accounts to handle rental income.
Important Landlord-Tenant Laws
1) Discrimination Laws:
Landlords are required to comply with the Fair Housing Laws while marketing their property, screening prospective tenants, and setting apartment regulations. In addition, they also need to make sure that their policies and actions are equally applicable to everyone and do not affect certain groups disproportionately.
2) Laws pertinent to required disclosures:
Several states require landlords to inform their tenants about primary state laws, individual policies, and other important facts regarding the rental– either in the lease agreement or through another writing. According to federal law, landlords are also required to reveal any lead-based paint hazards. These disclosures have to be made before the tenant moves into his rented property.
3) Security deposit laws:
Normally, lease agreements involve a security deposit payment that the tenant makes to the landlord, against any missed rental payments or damage caused by the tenant. According to security deposit laws, a landlord cannot use security deposit funds for purposes other than repairing property damage or covering default rental payments.
At the end of the agreement, the landlord should provide an itemized deduction list to the tenant, along with the remaining deposit balance, if any.
4) Tenant privacy laws:
Tenants have the right to live in their rented home without any disturbances or privacy breaches. Hence, once the tenant has gained possession of the property, the landlord cannot make unannounced visits (typically, a notice of 24-48 hours is to be given prior to a visit).
In conclusion, if you are a landlord, you must structure your business policies around the prevailing rental laws. On the other hand, tenants should also be aware that they are required to allow access to the property assuming they are given notice.