Landlord-Tenant Legal Terms

Tenants (also referred to as "renters") should know their rights when entering into a rental agreement. You may need help to rent an apartment or house, understanding the landlord-tenant laws in your state, or with a landlord-tenant dispute.

Of course, the landlord-tenant relationship is a two-way street. Whether you are a landlord looking to find the perfect tenant, or a tenant looking for reasonable accommodations and a pleasant landlord, there are several things to consider.

Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, the basics of fair housing laws, and more. To that end, here are some common legal terms that crop up:

"Abandoned property" defined. "Abandoned property" means property which is left unattended on the premises after the termination of the tenancy, unless the owner of the property has expressed an intent to return for the property.

"Action" defined. "Action" includes counterclaim, crossclaim, third­party claim or any other proceeding in which rights are determined

"Court" defined. "Court" means the district court, justice's court or other court of competent jurisdiction situated in the county or township wherein the premises are located.

"Dwelling" and "dwelling unit" defined. "Dwelling" or "dwelling unit" means a structure or the part of a structure that is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence or sleeping place by one person who maintains a household or by two or more persons who maintain a common household.

"Exclude" defined."Exclude" means to evict or to prohibit entry by locking doors or by otherwise blocking or attempting to block entry, or to make a dwelling unit uninhabitable by interrupting or causing the interruption of electric, gas, water or other essential services.

"Landlord" defined. "Landlord" means a person who provides a dwelling unit for occupancy by another pursuant to a rental agreement."Owner" defined. "Owner" means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested:

  1. All or part of the legal title to property, except a trustee under a deed of trust who is not in possession of the property; or
  2. All or part of the beneficial ownership, and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises.

"Premises" defined. "Premises" means a dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part, facilities, furniture, utilities and appurtenances therein and grounds, areas and facilities held out for the use of tenants

"Rent" defined. "Rent" means all periodic payments to be made to the landlord for occupancy of a dwelling unit, including, without limitation, all reasonable and actual late fees set forth in the rental agreement

"Rental agreement" defined. "Rental agreement" means any oral or written agreement for the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit or premises

"Tenant" defined. "Tenant" means a person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a dwelling unit to the exclusion of others.

"Title Insurance" defined."Title insurance" guarantees that the ownership of property a person is financing is just as it's been stated in the recorded documents (recorded with the county) That is to say that there are no former owners or liens against the property hiding in the closet.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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