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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Landlord-Tenant Law: Tenant’s Rights

Landlord-Tenant Law: Tenant’s Rights

By Udai Singh, Attorney-At-Law

As a tenant, you have rights, but you also have responsibilities.

For your own protection, there are some things you need to do before you even sign the lease, while you are renting and when you move out.  There are also things you need to know if your landlord tries to evict you.

Are You a Tenant?

If you rent a room in a hotel or rooming house, you may legally be a ‘guest’ and not a ‘tenant.’  If you are legally a ‘guest,’ your landlord does NOT have to go through any legal procedures to evict you. If you do not pay the rent you owe, the landlord may sell your belongings to pay your bill. 

Before You Move In

First, carefully inspect the entire house or apartment to make sure it is in good condition.  Next, make a list of damages (things that are wrong with the house or apartment) and have the landlord sign it.  Keep a copy of this list.  If possible, don’t sign the lease or move in until the landlord completes all the necessary repairs.

Your first cost will probably be the application fee. Ask the landlord if it will be returned to you if your application is denied.  You also need to know if it can be counted toward rent if you decide to rent the house or apartment.

A tenant’s rights and responsibilities are spelled out in the lease.  This document states all the important information about your tenancy.  The lease tells how long it lasts, renewal conditions, repair procedures, rent due date, etc.  Read your lease carefully before signing it.  Be sure to get a copy of the lease you sign.

In most cases, you will have to pay a security deposit before you move in.  This covers damages that you, your family or guests may cause.  Under certain conditions, you are entitled to have your security deposit placed in an escrow account (a special bank account).  If so, your landlord must tell you the escrow account number and where the account is kept.

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