“Rental Laws That Property Managers Should Now” written by Mike Marko
What are the specific rental laws that property managers must know?
In the rental property business, every action a property manager and a tenant must be done in accordance to the rental laws of the state they are working in.
The lease, which is an important tool between a lessor and a lessee, should also be written under the guidance of the rental laws.
Property managers must clearly understand the rental laws so they can manage their property effectively without worry of being put in the middle of a lawsuit, or losing money.
In this blog post, we will focus our discussion so you understand the different rental laws affecting a property manager.
Understanding Rentals Laws Affecting Property Managers
Rental laws vary in every state. Some States are completely different to other areas while others have some commonality.
Your actions as the property manager should be guided by the rental laws in the state you are working in and where your properties are located. Violating rental laws would result in several consequences that would definitely affect both your rental business and your livelihood.
So what exactly are these rental laws and how can they protect you and your tenant?
What Are Rental Laws?
Rental laws are also commonly known as the landlord-tenant law. The landlord-tenant law was created for the purpose of governing the rental of both residential and commercial leases. It is an aspect of the common law that specifies the rights and duties of landlords and tenants during the rental of a property.
Residential And Commercial Leases
Laws revolving around the rental industry are applied in both residential and commercial leases. The lease agreement contains important and basic information regarding the landlord-tenant relationship. Although there are some states that accept an oral agreement, it is recommended to provide a written agreement in order to have proof. The purpose of the lease is to protect the interests of both the landlord and the tenant. Commonly the lease is used as the legal document by the rental courts to resolve disputed matters during the rental of the property.
A property manager or landlord could give a lease agreement to the residential and commercial tenants. But what is the main difference between a residential lease agreement and a commercial one?
The residential lease is an agreement designed for individuals who live or reside in the leased property. In a residential lease, much of the rights and protections favor the tenants and specific responsibilities are detailed in the terms of the residential lease. Residential leases deal with one or several tenants all occupying the same rental property or rental space.
The commercial lease is given to commercial business tenants who are occupying the leased property for business purposes. Unlike the residential lease, it holds a lower risk of unequal bargaining power. Normally, commercial tenants have fewer protections because they are subject to much more negotiation. Additionally, commercial leases commonly deal with shared building space with other commercial tenants which limits the ability of the tenant to negotiate as an individual business for the building.
Many rental businesses require tenants to give a security deposit before moving into the rented property. The security deposit is a pseudo-insurance for the landlord collected from the tenant to cover any losses or damages that may occur due to the tenant when they vacate the property. A security deposit is different than paying a rent as deposits must be paid in full.
Each state has its own laws regarding the amount and usage of the security deposits. In addition, landlord-tenant laws indicate the allocated period of time given to a landlord for returning the security deposit to the tenant as well as the specific usages for the security deposit.
Tenant’s Rights, Duties, And Remedies/Protection
Under the rental law, a property manager must provide an agreement that contains the tenant’s rights and duties, as well as his own. Failing to do so could result in several legal consequences and disputes.
Each tenant has the right to be free from discrimination. A person could rent a property regardless of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status, and disability. In fact, some states have also provided special laws for tenants who are part of the LGBT community.
Once a tenant moves into the rented property, they automatically gain rights to have a certain level of privacy. This means that their landlord or property manager are not allowed to enter the property without a proper notice being given beforehand.
Tenants also have the right to live in a habitable home. The landlord must provide an appropriate and safe place for them. However, a certain number of responsibilities must be carried out by the tenants as a part of the deal.
Tenant Duties Or Responsibilities
Here are examples of a tenant’s duties and responsibilities:
- All tenants are required to preserve and keep their rented properties in a good condition.
- Tenants are required to vacate the property in the same condition before they move in. Otherwise, the security deposit would be used to fix or repair the damage done to the rented property.
- If a tenant rents a commercial property, they are bound to operate a business at the rental property and also bound to completing the lease agreement even if their business fails. The property can not be converted to a residential property or house residential tenants during a commercial lease.
- Tenants must pay rent regularly and on time. Failing to do this could end in a lease break or early end of the lease.
The rental laws also protect the tenants from certain instances or scenarios. Here are some examples of tenant remedies:
- If the landlord tries to evict the tenant due to failure to pay rent, the tenant can offer constructive eviction as an affirmative defense. This is often used if the landlord fails to provide a safe or habitable place for the tenant.
- If the landlord fails to fulfill their duties, the tenant could be relieved from paying the rent. The breach of dependent covenants can be used as an affirmative defense by the tenant who’s on the verge of eviction.
- A tenant can use retaliatory eviction as both an affirmative defense against an eviction. This is normally done when a landlord tries to evict a tenant in retaliation for reporting health and safety code violations.
- Some states allow for the tenant to recover money damages if the landlord breaks the state laws or administrative codes.
Most of the tenant remedies require having the rental courts rule on the defense and commonly are used to negotiate move outs instead of evictions.
Landlord/Property Manager’s Rights, Duties, And Remedies/Protection
Landlord-tenant laws are fair, and also consider the landlord’s or property manager’s rights, duties, and protection.
Many states give rights to the landlord that would help them protect the property and keep it in a safe and habitable condition. For example, landlords are required to collect rents and additional payments for utilities from their tenants. If the tenant fails to pay their bills, the laws allow a landlord to evict tenants in consideration that it be done through the proper procedure.
All landlords and property managers have the right to terminate a lease if their tenant violates the terms or clauses written in their agreement. When terminating a tenant you must be sure to follow all State and local rental laws regarding eviction procedures to ensure a successful eviction…
Landlord Duties Or Responsibilities
In exchange for their rights, the rental laws require property managers to fulfill certain responsibilities such as:
- The duty to deliver possession of the rental property to the tenant at the beginning of a lease.
- The landlord should give and respect the tenants privacy.
- Property managers should not affect the tenant’s possessory rights to the lease.
- Provide shelter for the tenant that’s free of serious defects which might harm or affect the tenant’s health or safety.
The rental laws contain protection for the landlords. If the tenant violates the agreement or do excessive damage to the rented property, the laws allow the landlord to reclaim or repossess the property.
Most landlords often use eviction to remove a tenant who violates their agreement. But aside from that, they can also recover monetary damages for unpaid rent. Almost all states have laws regarding the methods of collecting damages or unpaid rents.
Another remedy would be affordable housing. There are programs for subsidized housing where the property manager assigns the rent according to the tenant’s income. Hence, tenants are required to report to their lessors any changes in their income.
Final Thoughts On Rental Laws That Property Managers Need To Know
Rental laws are a part of the common law that specifies the rights and duties of property managers and tenants during the period of their relationship. These laws can be applied to both residential and commercial leases.
The lease or rental agreement of the property manager and tenant must adhere to the rental laws in their area. So before finalizing an agreement, it’s recommended that you check the laws in your area first.
The laws state the duties, responsibilities, and remedies of the landlord and the tenant during the tenancy. The laws allow either party to take counteractions should the other violate a term or clause in their agreement.
If you have any questions to clarify regarding rental laws, you can leave them below.
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