What the Landlord Tenant Law Means to the Renter

Landlord tenant law is a general term for any that governs how landlords and tenants should behave in a renter-tenant relationship. Most of those laws are either local or state laws. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) is a federal law that provides a basic template for landlord tenant laws. All state landlord tenant laws contain at least some provisions of this legislation. This means that while landlord tenant laws vary between states, and in some cases, between different parts of the same state, there are certain common features that apply everywhere in United States.

Landlord Tenant Law and the Landlord-Tenant Relationship

When a tenant agrees to rent an apartment, a house or any other living space, they sign a lease with a landlord. The lease spells out what kind of responsibilities a tenant and a landlord have towards each other.  A lease is a mutually binding contract, so if either a tenant or a landlord fails to live up to their responsibilities, the lease is automatically rendered null and void.

In the past, the landlords had a great deal of leeway into what they could include in the lease. Since the tenant needed a place to live, the landlord had the an advantage. Naturally, this could not help but lead to abusive practices because landlords were able to take advantage of their tenants without consequences.

The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act was designed to address that. Originally passed in 1972, it was designed to provide federal standards that state and local landlord tenant laws could be designed around. While it left landlords and tenants some leeway over the contents of the list, it imposed regulations, requirements and limits where none previously existed. The act was designed to be fair to landlords and tenants alike, ensuring that the interests of both parties are equally respected. So while the tenants did get certain protections, it also gave them additional responsibilities that they are legally obligated to follow.

Landlord Tenant Law and Rental Payments

Under URLTA, once the lease is signed, a tenant must make monthly rental payments to the landlord every month. If they did not agree upon a specific date, the rent is due at the beginning of each month. If the lease does not have a fixed rental period (which is usually a year), the rent must be paid on week-to-week basis. Some state and municipal landlord tenant laws also put caps on rental rates for low-income tenants.

Other Tenant Obligations

URLTA requires tenants to follow all provisions of state and local building and housing codes, especially the ones that impact health and safety. They are also required to keep their living space as clean and as safe as they reasonably can. They must dispose of waste in a safe, timely manner. They must make a reasonable effort to make sure their plumbing doesn't get clogged. While they are not responsible for the upkeep of the building utilities, facilities and appliances, they are not allowed to intentionally misuse, abuse and otherwise damage them. They are also not allowing to knowingly deface or damage any part of building.

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