This article answers common questions asked by people about landlord and tenant disputes.

What are the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants?

Both landlords and tenants have certain rights and responsibilities under the law. Landlords are responsible for providing a safe and habitable dwelling, complying with building and housing codes, and making necessary repairs in a timely manner. Tenants are responsible for paying rent on time, maintaining the rental unit in a clean and habitable condition, and not causing damage to the property.

How can a tenant legally break a lease?

A tenant may be able to legally break a lease under certain circumstances, such as if they are a victim of domestic violence or if they are called to active military duty. In some states, a tenant may also be able to break a lease if the rental unit is uninhabitable due to the landlord’s failure to make necessary repairs. In these cases, the tenant may be required to provide written notice to the landlord and may be responsible for paying any outstanding rent or fees.

What is the process for a landlord to evict a tenant?

The process for evicting a tenant varies depending on the state in which the rental property is located. Generally, a landlord must first give the tenant written notice to vacate the property, usually citing a specific reason for the eviction such as nonpayment of rent or a violation of the lease agreement. If the tenant does not vacate the property within the required time frame, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court.

Can a landlord enter a tenant’s unit without notice?

In most cases, a landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice before entering the tenant’s unit. The amount of notice required may vary depending on the laws of the state or jurisdiction where the rental property is located. Generally, however, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the unit, unless there is an emergency or the tenant has given the landlord permission to enter at a specific time.

It is important for landlords and tenants to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the terms of the lease or rental agreement, as well as any applicable state or local laws. Landlords should also be mindful of the privacy rights of their tenants and should only enter the tenant’s unit when necessary. Tenants, on the other hand, should be aware of their right to privacy and should not allow a landlord to enter their unit without proper notice unless it is an emergency or they have given permission.

Can a tenant withhold rent if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs?

In some states, tenants may be able to withhold rent if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs, but they must follow certain procedures. This typically involves giving the landlord written notice of the issue and allowing a reasonable amount of time for the repairs to be made. The tenant must also continue to pay rent during this time and may be required to deposit the withheld rent into an escrow account.

Can a landlord increase the rent during a tenancy?

Landlords may be able to increase the rent during a tenancy, but the rules for doing so vary by state. Some states have rent control laws that limit the amount of rent a landlord can charge, while others have no rent control laws. In states without rent control laws, landlords may be able to increase the rent at any time as long as they give the tenant the required notice.

Can a tenant be evicted for complaining about the condition of the rental unit?

A tenant cannot be evicted solely for complaining about the condition of the rental unit. Landlords are required to maintain the rental unit in a safe and habitable condition and to make necessary repairs in a timely manner. If a tenant complains about the condition of the unit, the landlord must take steps to address the issue.

Can a landlord discriminate against a tenant based on their race, religion, gender, or other protected characteristic?

It is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant based on their race, religion, gender, or other protected characteristic. This includes refusing to rent to a potential tenant, setting different terms or conditions for tenants of different protected classes, or evicting a tenant because of their protected class.

What are the consequences for a landlord who violates their tenant’s rights?

If a landlord violates a tenant’s rights, the tenant may have several options for recourse. The tenant may be able to file a complaint with a government agency, such as a fair housing agency or a consumer protection agency. The tenant may also be able to file a lawsuit against the landlord for damages or to seek an injunction requiring the landlord to take certain actions.

Can a tenant sublet their rental unit to someone else?

In most states, tenants must obtain the landlord’s permission before subletting their rental unit to someone else. The tenant must also follow any rules set forth in the lease agreement regarding subletting.

Can a landlord require a security deposit? If so, how much can they charge?

Landlords are generally allowed to require tenants to pay a security deposit, which is a sum of money held as collateral in case the tenant damages the rental unit or fails to pay rent. The amount of the security deposit and the rules for returning it to the tenant after they move out vary by state. Some states have laws limiting the amount of the security deposit a landlord can charge, while others have no limits.

What is the process for returning a security deposit to a tenant after they move out?

The process for returning a security deposit to a tenant after they move out varies by state. In most states, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within a certain timeframe after the tenant moves out, typically 30 days. The landlord may be able to deduct money from the security deposit for damages to the rental unit or for unpaid rent. The landlord must provide the tenant with a written itemized list of any deductions made from the security deposit.

Can a landlord charge fees for late rent payments?

Landlords may be able to charge fees for late rent payments, but the rules for doing so vary by state. Some states have laws regulating the amount of late fees landlords can charge, while others have no limits. In some states, landlords may be able to charge a higher late fee if the rent is more than a certain number of days late.

Can a landlord refuse to renew a tenant’s lease?

Landlords may be able to refuse to renew a tenant’s lease, but they must follow certain rules. In most states, landlords must provide the tenant with written notice of their decision not to renew the lease a certain number of days before the lease expires. The amount of notice required varies by state. In some states, landlords may be required to provide a reason for not renewing the lease.

Can a tenant be evicted for having overnight guests?

Landlords may be able to evict a tenant for having overnight guests if the guests are causing a disturbance or violating the terms of the lease agreement. However, the landlord must follow the proper eviction process and cannot evict the tenant simply because they do not like the guest.

Can a landlord prohibit a tenant from having pets?

Landlords may be able to prohibit tenants from having pets, but they must follow certain rules. In most states, landlords may include a “no pets” clause in the lease agreement, which prohibits tenants from keeping pets in the rental unit. However, some states have laws that prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants with service animals or emotional support animals. In these states, landlords may be required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with these animals.

Can a tenant make modifications to the rental unit without the landlord’s permission?

In most cases, a tenant must get the landlord’s permission before making any changes or modifications to the rental unit. This includes things like painting the walls, installing new fixtures or appliances, or making structural changes to the unit.

The terms of the lease or rental agreement may specify whether the tenant is allowed to make certain types of changes or modifications to the unit, and if so, whether the tenant must obtain the landlord’s permission first. If the lease or rental agreement is silent on the matter, the tenant should consult with the landlord before making any changes to the unit.

It is important for tenants to understand that they are responsible for maintaining the rental unit in good condition and returning it to the landlord in the same condition as when they moved in, with normal wear and tear expected. Making unauthorized changes to the unit could result in the tenant being responsible for any damage or costs associated with undoing those changes.

Can a landlord terminate a tenancy without cause?

Landlords may be able to terminate a tenancy without cause, but they must follow certain rules. In most states, landlords must provide the tenant with written notice of their decision to terminate the tenancy a certain number of days before the tenancy is set to end. The amount of notice required varies by state. In some states, landlords may be required to provide a reason for terminating the tenancy.

What happens if a tenant damages the rental unit?

If a tenant damages the rental unit, the landlord may be able to deduct the cost of the damages from the tenant’s security deposit or seek compensation from the tenant through other means, such as a lawsuit. The landlord may also be able to terminate the tenancy if the damages are severe enough.

Can a tenant sue a landlord for breach of contract?

A tenant may be able to sue a landlord for breach of contract if the landlord fails to fulfill their responsibilities under the lease agreement. For example, if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs or fails to maintain the rental unit in a safe and habitable condition, the tenant may be able to sue for breach of contract. If the tenant prevails in the lawsuit, they may be awarded damages or may be able to terminate the lease.