Being a landlord involves more than fixing leaky pipes and broken lights. It is also a legal designation overseen by local housing authorities and state laws. These laws not only protect you as a landlord, but your tenant as well, and are subsequently legally binding. Unfortunately, many landlords are unaware of certain laws and regulations, landing them in serious legal trouble. Below are the top three most common legal mistakes that landlords make:
A landlord must provide a rental unit that is fit to live in under a state-imposed “implied warranty of habitability”. If a property remains in disrepair, a tenant may choose to fix the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, legally terminate their lease, or report the violation to a state building inspector. The failure to make these major repairs when requested can result in a lawsuit against the landlord.
Leasing an Unsafe Environment
A landlord is legally responsible for ensuring that a rental property is safe. This could put them in legal jeopardy if they fail to keep tenants safe from dangerous conditions or fails to make safety inspections. They must also inform tenants of hazards that exist on the premises and take reasonable measures to protect the safety of tenants from other tenants and/or criminals on the premises. This typically means providing locks and adequate lighting, but it could also mean protecting them from harmful contaminants such as mold or lead. Otherwise, a tenant may be able to sue and recover compensation from the landlord.
Illegal Rental Agreement Provisions
When you draft a lease that violate state and/or federal laws, you subject yourself to legal repercussions and penalties. Placing conditions in a rental agreement such as waiving a tenant’s right to sue the landlord, for example, could land yourself in some hot water. And it should go without saying you should not include any provisions based on race, color, national origin, sex or gender, familial status, disability, and religion.
Aaron Cox Law can help landlords navigate their legal responsibilities to their tenants. Contact us today to learn more.