Landlord and Tenant Law
What is Landlord Tenant Law?
Landlord Tenant Laws regulate the relationship between one who owns real property (i.e., land, houses, buildings, etc.) and those to whom he or she gives certain rights of use and possession. Landlord tenant laws grew out of the English Common Law, and contains elements of both real property law and contracts, though most jurisdictions have added a number of more modern considerations, as well.
Residential and Commercial Leases
Many jurisdictions vary widely in their application of landlord tenant law based on the type of tenant. A residential tenant is one who seeks to take up personal occupancy in the premises for purposes of using it as a home. A commercial tenant is usually a business that takes up possession of the property for purposes of carrying on some form of commercial, retail, or industrial pursuit. Given the different values associated with each type of tenancy, the laws vary to meet these interests. For example, residential tenancies are usually given more protections against unannounced entry by the landlord (to protect privacy), greater habitability requirements (to ensure one can actually live in the property), and more protections against wrongful taking of deposits. Commercial tenancies, on the other hand, are granted more protections against activities that would harm a business interest or impede its operations, but have fewer considerations for privacy and habitability.
Eviction and Back Rent
In either type of tenancy, the usual tools for a landlord to enforce its right to collect rent is through the use of evictions. An eviction is a legal proceeding, usually with an expedited procedural calendar, that allows a landlord to put a tenant on notice of the failure to pay, file a lawsuit, and obtain a court order requiring the tenant to vacate the premises, often within a matter of weeks. Most states also provide a mechanism for recovering unpaid rent from the tenant in the event of a default, including, in some instances, rent that would have been due through the end of the lease term. Note, while jurisdictions vary, a landlord is typically not obliged to take any extraordinary measures to find a new tenant in the event one vacates early and breaks the lease, meaning the original tenant remains contractually liable for the full amount of the lease all the way to its original end date. As a result, it is rarely wise for a tenant to simply abandon a leased property, even if they know they are about to default.
A tenant has a number of rights, as well, and chief among them are certain implied warranties of habitability. If a leased property becomes uninhabitable, due to structural damage, mold, water leaks, fire, vermin infestation, or any number of other circumstances, the tenant may have a right to withhold rents or even vacate the property without penalty. Failure to provide a habitable property is the equivalent of a tenant failing to pay the rent: it amounts to a breach of the essential terms of the lease agreement, often excusing the tenant from further performance. Therefore, landlords typically have all maintenance and repair obligations associated with a leased property.
Landlords are also obligated, in many jurisdictions, to disclose how they will hold and use deposit money. If money is taken on deposit, the landlord must disclose whether the deposit is refundable or not and, in some jurisdictions, must disclose in which bank the money will be held, whether it will draw interest or not, and under what circumstances the money may be withheld from return upon the termination of the lease.
If you would like more information on Landlord Tenant Law, please visit the resources below. Additionally, since landlord tenant laws vary greatly by state and are always changing, should you have a specific question or issue, you may wish to contact a local attorney. You can find a list of attorneys in your area that focus their practices on landlord tenant law by visiting our Law Firms page.
Know Your Rights!
- How Do I Throw Someone Out of My House?
Ever had the house guest you just cannot get to leave? Maybe someone you thought you could share a relationship with and things did not work out, or a friend or family member who just cramps your lifestyle, eats your food, and does not contribute to the bills? Whatever the case may be, getting someone out who has overstayed their welcome can sometime be a very difficult task. So, how do you throw someone out of your house?
- How to Fight an Eviction
Getting behind on rent and receiving an eviction notice can be a traumatic experience. While every state is different, most share certain characteristics, and it is important to know how evictions work in order to know what you should do.
- When is it Okay Not to Pay Rent
Leases are tricky things. They are a combination of contract laws, agreements between the parties, and laws and regulations that relate to landlords and tenants, housing standards, zoning, safety, etc. As a result, although a lease agreement may say you have to pay rent always and under every circumstance, there are plenty of times when one of these other laws may intervene.
Landlord and Tenant Law Articles
- Lease Transfer Premiums in Texas: A Hidden Consideration in Commercial Lease TransfersCommercial real estate can be complex, especially regarding unfamiliar concepts like the 'transfer premium.' It's a provision designed to protect landlords during tenant transfers, ensuring they aren't disadvantaged by additional payments made by the transferee beyond the lease terms. Although relatively new in Texas courts and not yet widespread in standard lease agreements, transfer premium provisions are gaining popularity in major urban areas. In this article, our Senior Associate Attorney Spencer gives an insightful analysis on the concept of transfer preminum.
- Alert - Ordinance No 87737 - New Residential Tenancy Requirements in City of Los AngelesLos Angeles landlords should be aware of a renter protection that went into effect earlier this year in LA City Ordinance No.187737. It is a notice that must be provided to residential tenants as of January 27, 2023. As a result, when a landlord in the City of Los Angeles now creates or renews a tenancy, he or she must provide the new notice to the tenant that explains the new tenant rights.
- Do Squatters in Florida Have Rights?As a real estate attorney in Florida, there are so many fun and interesting cases I run into on a weekly basis. One of the most intriguing cases deals with squatters rights. Most people don’t know that squatters do have rights in the state of Florida. That is right! Squatters can potentially own a property free and clear of debt simply by breaking the law. How does this even make any sense? Let me explain how this happens.
- Guide to the Perfect Florida EvictionNo one likes evictions. The tenant is likely dealing with financial troubles and cannot pay the landlord what is owed, and the landlord has to pay an attorney to get his property back, which is essentially held hostage until the tenant vacates. Ideally, a resolution can be reached, and I work with both landlords and tenants to make this happen. However, at the end of the day, the tenant has to pay rent, or they have to go. Here is how to get a tenant out quickly and without incurring excessive liability or costs.
- 5 Most Common Mistakes Made by Florida LandlordsBeing a landlord can be incredibly frustrating when dealing with a problem tenant. Below are 5 mistakes to avoid so that if a problems arises, you are in the best position to resolve it.
- Commercial Lease Review for California Medical OfficesA commercial lease is a binding contract between a landlord and tenant. It sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. In contrast to residential leases, California law provides relatively limited protections to commercial tenants. In other words, the terms of your lease are especially important. It is imperative that the commercial lease for your medical office is carefully reviewed before you sign.
- To Lease or License California Real Estate, That Is The QuestionThe first question is, what is a “lease”? This isn’t as simple an answer as one may think. One of our favorite definitions of a lease is this one: a lease is an agreement that creates the relationship of landlord and tenant. However, that definition doesn’t provide very much insight.
- Desperately Seeking Lease Purchase Options in Today’s Housing Market in CaliforniaHome buyers face an uphill battle in today’s housing market: high prices, increased interest rates and a low supply of homes on the market. What is a home buyer to do?
- How to Make Sure Your Rental Home Is SafeVacation is a time for exploration, rest, relaxation and fun. Every year, millions of Americans rent residential vacation spaces through online lodging services like Airbnb, HomeToGo, VRBO, and Tripping instead of booking commercial hotels or motels. Customers have the option to rent private or shared spaces and can also book a property for multiple people to share. While renting a home in this way has numerous benefits, like offering an inexpensive living space with lots of character and comfort, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding vacation goers that it is still important to make safety a priority.
- Common Problems in Residential Leasing in Florida Part I: Before the Lease Is SignedThis article is part one of a three-part series addressing common problems that landlords and tenants run into in residential leasing. Residential leasing in Florida is regulated by Chapter 83 in the Florida Statutes but it is governed by the lease between the landlord and tenant. The three phases in which problems can arise are before the lease is signed, during the lease, and at the end of the lease. Each phase has unique issues. This article covers those issues that most often arise before the lease is signed and looks at perspectives of both the tenant and the landlord.
- All Real Estate Law Articles
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