Renting residential property can be a risky and stressful time for both landlords and tenants. Once an agreement is made to rent property, your state law provides both parties with legal rights, but it imposes certain responsibilities as well. No matter which side of the lease you're on, you should become familiar with the laws of your own state.
Always Have a Written Lease Before Renting Property
Some states will enforce a lease that landlords and tenants agree to orally, but if problems arise, lack of a written lease can complicate matters even more. Both a landlord and a tenant can benefit by signing a written lease.
The document must comply with state requirements, but it will generally state how long the tenant will lease the property, the amount of rent the tenant must pay, the day on which rent is due, consequences of violating the lease, and many other issues relating to the property.
Legal Methods for Collecting Unpaid Rent
Many states allow landlords to take their tenants to court to collect unpaid rent. If successful, a landlord can obtain a court judgment against the tenant and may even be able to get reimbursed for the expense of hiring a lawyer. Once a landlord obtains a court judgment, she generally has the right to place liens on the tenant's property, garnish his wages, or hire a collection agency or lawyer to call and write letters to the tenant until all rent is paid. However, the procedures for each of these collection methods will vary from state to state.
Know When You Can Legally Evict a Tenant
Evicting a tenant is an extreme measure, and most laws protect tenants by requiring the landlord to take certain steps before the eviction can happen. The process usually requires the landlord to give the tenant written notice and an opportunity to pay past-due rent or correct other lease violations by a certain date. If a tenant is evicted, a local law enforcement official must usually be the one to remove a tenant's belongings from the residence.
Landlords and Tenants Should Know Their Responsibilities
Landlords are always responsible for keeping their rental safe and up to local health codes. Typically, this includes maintaining windows, floors, appliances, and plumbing in good working order. The tenant is responsible for keeping the home clean and free of any damage, and he must refrain from disturbing neighbors. The cause of many legal disputes between landlords and tenants commonly relate to a failure to satisfy one of these responsibilities.
A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding landlords and tenants is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. We hope you found it useful. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.
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