Renters usually have the disadvantage, especially because they’re locked into a contract. But, renters often don’t know what responsibilities their property owner has — and what responsibilities they aren’t holding to. While most landlords fulfill their duties, others bank on the fact their renters won’t know the law. So, before you rent, familiarize yourself with the legal responsibilities of your landlord.
Landlords are Required to Provide a Safe, Quiet Environment to Tenants
Most states require landlords to provide safe, quiet environments for their tenants. This is implied in a lease agreement, even if the lease agreement doesn’t straight out state that. That is why landlords often have quiet hours and noise restrictions in their lease agreements. In terms of safety, landlords have a few requirements that must be met, such as providing smoke detectors, having locks on the doors and performing background checks on all employees and potential renters.
Repair Requests Must Be Responded To
It is the landlord’s job to make sure their units are well maintained. That means responding to repair requests in a timely manner. While every state has their own definition for what “timely manner” means, it usually means quick. This is especially true for major repairs that could be potential life hazards.
Your Security Deposit Is Stored
You might hand over a check to the landlord, but security deposits aren’t just deposited into the bank and used for whatever. Instead, states require landlords to store them in a separate account so that they can be refunded promptly. Some states may even require a landlord to store them in an interest-bearing account.
Laws and Responsibilities Vary By State
While there are general laws for most states, the responsibilities and laws for landlords can vary. In California, you can find the landlord responsibilities regarding repairs on the California Department of Consumer Affairs site.
Check Your Lease
Always read your lease thoroughly and see what laws are listed in your lease. Most landlords include applicable tenant/landlord laws and responsibilities. Also, read your lease carefully to ensure you understand:
- How repair requests are submitted and how long the property owner has to respond to them.
- How and when your deposit is due, when it will be refunded, etc.
- How your rental payments are handled, when they are due, etc.
- Your responsibilities for maintaining your apartment. Some landlords require cleaning and other routine maintenance performed by their tenants — and you will only know that if you read your lease.