Renting is always a tricky business, as many renting companies hide hidden clauses in their contracts, or seem to want to get as much money out of you as possible. It is possible to protect yourself from sneaky companies. Below are some laws that you may not have known about renting and leasing.
Safe Place to Live
State Law requires landlords to keep rental units in compliance with building and health codes. However, sometimes landlords do not keep units up to par with said codes. If a unit is unsafe, unsanitary or has substantial utility problems, it is necessary to submit a written demand for repairs. This is called a Notice of Deficient Conditions. The tenant gives the landlord ten days to fix the repairs. At the end of the corrective period, the renter can choose to move out within ten days, or fix the problem personally, save the receipts and deduct the amount paid from future rent (not to exceed two months). Tenants should not withhold rent without going through this process, as they can be brought to court for delinquency.
Landlords are required to state in the contract if there are any non-refundable charges in the security deposit. They also are required to return the security deposit and a list of itemized deductions within 30 days of termination, or 15 days after receiving renter’s new mailing address. There are no laws regarding deposits for pets or other additional fees, besides stating what fees are non-refundable.
For a “No Cause Eviction” Landlords are required to give a 15 days notice for leases with no end date and month-to-month contracts. However, if a tenant does not pay, they can be given a 3-day notice to pay or vacate. However, if a tenant cannot pay or cannot leave in three days, the landlord then needs to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. This must be delivered in person to someone living in the rental unit. It is illegal for a landlord to lock out a renter out of the apartment or change locks, shut off utilities or take your property. Once the lawsuit is brought before a judge, the judge will then rule if the tenant was an “unlawful detainer” or someone who is unlawfully keeping possession of the premises. The judge will determine how many days the tenant has before they have to move out, and at the end of that period, a constable will show up at the rental unit and force the tenant to leave.