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Landlord Tenant Law

Landlord-tenant law is a part of real estate law that specifically deals with the relationship between landlords and tenants in the leasing of property. While laws vary from state to state, there are some general legal principles that most all states follow. Since tenants typically have less power and resources than landlords, some states have specific laws protecting tenant rights. Federal laws may also apply in a dispute that involves allegations of discrimination in housing.

Landlord and Tenant Rights

In order to protect landlords, the law provides certain remedies they can rely on if the tenants breach their leases. Landlords are allowed to require security deposits and to evict tenants outlined by the law. They can also assess late fees if rent payments are not made on time. During the beginning of the process, landlords can require that tenants enter into written leases, submit written applications, provide references and allow credit and background checks. They can also prohibit pets from the property. Once leases are signed and tenants have moved in, landlords can enter and inspect the property after giving the tenant reasonable notice.

Tenants also have certain rights when they rent residential or commercial real estate. This includes certain rights to repairs, the right to receive advanced notice if the landlord intends to enter the premises, rights against discrimination in housing and the right to receive a notice to quit before an eviction. In areas where rent control laws are in place, tenants who have a rent-controlled apartment have rights against rent increases as well.

Common Areas of Landlord-Tenant Litigation

Common disputes that can lead to landlord-tenant litigation include a variety of different matters. In many cases, a tenant may have pets that are forbidden by their leases. In others, landlords can begin eviction proceedings if a tenant fails to keep the property clean. A landlord's failure to make needed repairs or a tenant breaking the lease can also result in a legal dispute.

Evictions and Unlawful Detainers

A major area of landlord-tenant law involves evictions and unlawful detainer actions. The process for eviction varies by state. Generally, however, the steps follow a similar pattern:

  • The landlord provides written notice to the tenant that notifies them of the breach and the number of days they have to remedy it or vacate.
  • The landlord drafts and files a complaint with the court.
  • The court issues a summons for the tenant to appear in court.
  • The court hearing occurs.
  • Judgment of the eviction is entered.
  • The eviction is completed by the local sheriff's department.

What Happens in Court

When the court date arrives, the parties can attempt to settle the matter through mediation. If an agreement can’t be reached, they can proceed to a hearing. Both parties are allowed to seek an attorney and present evidence to the court. If the court grants the eviction, the judge will give the tenant a limited number of days to vacate the property. If the eviction is denied, the tenant will not have to vacate the property, but they may still need to remedy the violation.

Consulting an Attorney

It's always best to try and solve disagreements privately before involving the courts. But if a legal issue can't be resolved, both the landlord and tenant has the right to take legal action for issues like breach of contract or security deposit disputes. Before proceeding, you will want to discuss your options with a qualified landlord-tenant attorney.

Speak to an Experienced Landlord Tenant Law Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified landlord tenant lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local landlord tenant attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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