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Real Estate Attorney

Under Real Estate Law, the landlord/tenant relationship and the legal agreements made between the two parties is complex. While the landlord owns the property and offers living space in exchange for rent, the tenant has rights to privacy and a clean and safe environment.

Certain federal and state statutes are designed to protect each of the parties involved in a rental contract and dictate the way in which procedures are carried out. These may include the processes surrounding tenant screening, security deposits, the payment of rent, repair of broken or damaged items and eviction. Anti-discrimination laws protect tenants from unfair treatment as well. Real estate attorneys represent both landlords and tenants for a number of reasons when disputes arise.

Landlord Tenant Law

Under landlord/tenant law both parties to the rental agreement have certain responsibilities and obligations to uphold. The landlord effectively agrees to maintain the premises to a state of habitability that meet certain standards for health and safety. In turn, the tenant must make monthly rental payments on time and keep the rental unit in good condition, following agreed upon rules and covenants.

Rental and Lease Agreements

The rental or lease agreement is the legal contract that outlines the details of the arrangement, what each of the parties can and cannot do and the consequences of those actions. This includes the amount of rent to be paid, any restrictions on the property, the number of occupants that may reside in the rental unit and agreements about how repairs are to be made.

Rent and Security Deposits

Both rent and security deposits are part of the rental agreement between a tenant and landlord. The due date of the rental payment and the consequences of a late payment are included in the contract. The security deposit ensures the rent (or damage done by the tenant) will be covered. If the tenant leaves the property in good condition and is not behind in rent, the full deposit is returned within a specified amount of time. State law dictates how much landlords can charge for deposits and time limits for returns.

Tenant Rights

Tenants have basic rights when occupying a rental property that encompass a great deal. These may include the right to:
• Clean and safe housing
• Privacy
• Repairs made within a reasonable timeframe
• Access without encumbrances for disabled individuals
• The return of the security deposit
• Assemble with other members of a tenant association on the premises
• Due process involving eviction

Tenant Eviction

An eviction notice is meant to inform tenants that a legal process of eviction is about to begin if the landlord grievance cannot be resolved. A tenant can be evicted in most cases with cause , but only if the landlord follows the proper protocol and files the necessary legal paperwork. Depending on the circumstances, landlords must give tenants sufficient notice to find suitable housing. However, some tenants are protected from eviction under Section 8 housing statutes or rent control situations

If a rental property does not meet certain health and safety codes, the tenant may also pursue “constructive eviction” which allows them to vacate the property without penalty or breach of the rental contract. If the rental property goes into foreclosure tenants may be evicted as well. If this is the case, the landlord is still responsible for satisfying the existing lease agreement and can be forced to pay for necessary moving costs by a judge in small claims court.

While the landlord/tenant relationship can be a complicated one, an experienced Real Estate Attorney can ensure the rights of each of the parties is upheld.