Landlord Legal Duty To Renters

Under real property law governing landlords and tenants, landlords in most states have an affirmative legal duty to provide their tenants with the quite enjoyment of their rented premises. This includes the right of the tenant to privacy and the right to have ones premises in good and safe working order and free from dangerous conditions that might pose an unreasonable risk of injury or harm to the tenant or to the tenant’s lawful guests.

Privacy – The Home As Ones Castle

When a landlord rents out an apartment, that premises becomes the tenant’s home, and the tenant has just as much right to privacy in her home as the landlord does in his. Each has the right to the quite enjoyment of their property – to be the master of ones domain. Yet apartment buildings must be maintained and its value protected, and sometimes the landlord needs to have access to the tenant’s apartment in order to make the necessary repairs or to further maintain the premises in a good and habitable condition. Sometimes, this can conflict with the tenants right to privacy.

Today however, most jurisdictions have landlord-tenant laws that balance the two competing interests – the interest of the landlord to preserve and maintain the value of the rental premises verses the interest of the tenant to be left alone in the privacy and sanctity of the tenants residence.

The Landlords Duty To Repair Tenants Premises

Under contemporary landlord-tenant law, most jurisdictions provide that a landlord may enter tenants premises to make repairs, in response to an emergency or to show the premises to other possible renters. The landlord in most states must provide the tenant with sufficient advance notice before entering the premises to make repairs or risk being subject to the laws of unlawful entry.

Tenants Request For Repairs

Where the tenant expressly requests that the landlord make repairs and the landlord fails to do so, the tenant in some jurisdictions, is allowed to make the necessary repairs themselves and then deduct that amount from the tenant’s upcoming rent. This is called the tenants right to repair and deduct, and it is one of the tenants most important remedies.

In most states the tenant is not allowed to withhold the rent until the necessary repairs have been made. While the tenant can always sue the landlord to maintain and repair the property as a breach of the lease claim, sometimes the best course of action is for the tenant to report the condition of the city or county building authority.

States, counties and cities have housing codes that require every landlord to provide “the basics” which include hot & cold running water, a roof that doesn’t leak, safe wiring, and the like. The landlord must provide habitable premises when the tenant moves in and make repairs to these basics, as they are required.

In addition, communities have health codes that require property owners, including landlords and their property management services to keep their premises free of rats, mice, and other vermin. And there will probably be a fire code that requires a landlord to keep the place free of flammable materials and dangerous wiring.

Finally, don’t forget about your lease or rental agreement. If the landlord promised to repair or maintain something – even if it is not a basic fix – the landlord must keep his promise and repair or maintain the premises. Thus, if the lease requires the landlord to paint the rooms periodically, to clean the swimming pool, or to provide a doorman, the landlord must do this or risk being in breach of the lease.

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