Landlord Tenant Law Firms
Whether you are already renting or seeking a home or apartment to rent, you need to know your rights and responsibilities. When everything goes well, and if your situation is simple and straightforward, you do not need to hire an attorney to rent a house. But, if you run into problems, such as an eviction or the need to terminate your lease early, a reputable landlord/tenant law firm can protect your legal rights, and help you avoid unnecessary financial liability and damage to your credit.
Federal, states and local housing laws protect tenants and prospective tenant from discrimination of many types. Under federal law, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you, charge a higher deposit, evict or harass you based on any of the following:
- National origin
- Familial status
- Reliance on a service animal
State and local laws in some jurisdictions also protect renters from discrimination based on:
- Marital status
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Source of income
Habitability and Repairs
Landlords have a duty to provide and maintain a habitable residence. State and local laws vary on exactly what this means and how it can be enforced. In general, the following are required for a property to be considered habitable:
- Running water
- Adequate heat
- Structurally sound
- Free from unsafe conditions, such as faulty wiring
- Free from infestation with vermin such as rats or roaches
Landlords are required to make the necessary repairs to maintain habitability. If repairs are needed, the first thing you should do is notify your landlord. From there, if repairs are not made in a timely fashion or if your landlord flat-out refuses to make or pay for repairs, you have several options, depending on your state and local laws.
Paying for the repairs yourself and deducting the cost from your rent, withholding rent payments, or moving out may be appropriate in your case. A local landlord/tenant attorney can advise you on the appropriate action based on your circumstances and jurisdiction.
Paying a security, or damage, deposit is a standard part of renting a house or apartment. This is money you should be able to get back, and in some states you are entitled to interest. When you move out, your landlord can keep the deposit, or the appropriate portion thereof, to pay for damage you have caused to the property, cleaning, and any unpaid rent. Landlords cannot keep your deposit to pay for normal wear and tear.
Each state has its own laws regarding deposits including:
- How long a landlord has to return your deposit after you have moved out
- Whether the deposit must be kept in a special bank account
- Whether the landlord must make a written account of all charges made against the deposit
- How much you can sue for if the landlord does not return your deposit, in some states it is up to three times the amount
To learn more about your rights as a tenant, please search this directory for an excellent landlord tenant law firm in your area.