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4 Landlord/Tenant Laws You Need to Know

Landlord-Tenant Lawbook Next to an Eviction Notice“Ignorantia legis neminem excusat,” translated as, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.” This is a legal principle that states that a person who does not know the law will still be liable for breaking that law even though they weren’t aware of its content. As a Shoreline property owner, it is essential to understand the laws that govern rental homes in your city. Landlord-tenant law states the rights and obligations that both landlords and tenants have relative to a rental property. While some aspects of landlord/tenant law vary from state to state, there are other parts of the law that all property owners – and tenants – would do well to remember.

Landlord/tenant law usually rests on the strength of your lease agreement. Lease agreements are binding contracts that should outline the relationship between the landlord and their tenant. A good lease agreement should have detailed information about the responsibilities of both parties as well as language that protects their rights.

However, any lease agreement must also follow state and federal tenant/landlord law. Occasionally, Shoreline property owners might include sections of a lease agreement that violate those laws. To illustrate, discriminating against a tenant based on gender, religion, race, or disability is illegal. Such discrimination violates the Federal Fair Housing Act, which protects individuals in certain classes from being denied housing. Needless to say, the provisions of the lease agreement that break state or federal law will not be recognized as binding.

While different important laws govern the landlord-tenant relationship, don’t forget to keep a note of the ones that regulate security deposits. Normally, landlords have tenants pay a security deposit before moving in. Be careful, though, because the amount of the deposit may be limited under your state law. Landlord/tenant laws also dictate how security deposits are to be returned, including how soon the refund must be issued after a tenant moves out.

As an illustration, the law states that all security deposits must be returned to a tenant when they move out, minus any documented deductions for repairs or cleaning costs. Deposits can be complicated. Yes, deductions are allowed, but it is also illegal for a landlord to deduct the cost of regular maintenance or normal wear and tear.

In many states, landlords have a maximum of 30 days to return a tenant’s security deposit. Exceeding this timeframe could have serious consequences for any landlord, so it’s vital to observe any time limits included in your state or local laws.

Tenant/landlord law also normally includes protections for both tenant rights and landlord rights. Most state laws state that tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, a livable condition, and a certain level of privacy. The other side of the coin, though, is that landlords have responsibilities to guarantee that their property maintenance and oversight do not violate these rights.

Without a doubt, the law also ensures that landlords can protect their rights. State laws often protect a landlord’s right to require a monthly rental payment as well as other payments as specified in the lease (utility bills, for instance). The law also protects a landlord’s ability to evict tenants for nonpayment or other legal causes. However, frequently a very specific process must be followed to ensure that a tenant’s rights are not violated during an eviction.

By remembering key aspects of landlord/tenant law, you can secure the compliance of policies of your rental properties. Operating within the law can help you avoid expensive and unnecessary lawsuits and keep your rental properties profitable for years to come.

At Real Property Management Eclipse, our team of expert Shoreline property managers is here to handle the legal requirements for you. Our staff is trained and well versed in landlord/tenant law, equal housing, fair housing, and more. Want to talk about property management planning? Contact us online or call us at 425-209-0252.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.