Nearly everyone who moves out of their parents’ house will initially rent their own place. It might be an apartment or a house, with one bedroom or four, but it will be rented. Because of this, nearly everyone has to deal with landlords. They are generally fair with their renters. However, if you rent long enough, or are just plain unlucky, you will run into a bad one. A bad property manager can hassle you for your rent, even if it is not due yet, refuse to fix things that break around the property, and in general make your life miserable. When you finally move out, they can pull the worst trick, withholding your security deposit. Knowing your local tenant law, or hiring an attorney who does, can save you from all of this.
The first sign that you have a bad landlord will be that they like to aggravate their renters. They might hound you for the rent every month, even though you have until the fifth to pay. Or they could threaten you with fines due to the wear and tear. If you know the local laws and know what is in your lease, you can quickly shut down a harassing landlord. The rent they claim is late? Point out that you have a signed contract that states it is not due until the fifth, no matter what they say. The damage you are inflicting on the floor? All rental laws have language which states that normal wear and tear of items, brought about by everyday, normal usage, is expected, and cannot be penalized.
Refusal to Fix Items
Property owners often get into the business of renting their properties because it seems like easy money. However, an entire month’s rent, or more, can disappear when repairs to the property are needed. This is why many owners will ignore repair requests. Knowing your local tenant law can help you understand what items the landlord is legally obligated to fix, and what you can do if he or she does not repair them in a timely manner. Even luxuries like a dishwasher need to be repaired, as you agreed to the contract with the understanding that the property had a dishwasher.
Withholding Security Deposit
The most common and frustrating thing that landlords do is withholding all or part of your security deposit after you have moved out. They may invent damage, or have exorbitant cleaning fees to justify not returning the money. Most tenant law requires the return of the deposit within a certain period, often 30 days. If any of the deposit is withheld, many jurisdictions require an explanation and even receipts. If your property manager doesn’t follow these laws, you can often recover all or a portion of the withheld deposit. The local statutes can also give you a clearer understanding of whether they were committing a crime.