When you’re a renter, it can feel like you have very little control over your living situation. You may find yourself in a not-so-great apartment with a not-so-great landlord. However, there are ways to help protect yourself from these less-than-ideal circumstances. As a renter, you probably don’t own your home. So that means you need to find someone who will let you rent their property until such time as you can buy it or build your own place. In simple terms, this is called subletting and the person renting out their property is known as the landlord. Understandably, most renters are cautious when meeting landlords for the first time and negotiating rental agreements. This is because landlords have many advantages over tenants, including unlimited access to their apartments and the ability to charge much higher rent or evict them on short notice if they want to sell the property or move in themselves. There are laws protecting tenants against exploitative landlords and vice versa; however, depending on where you live, these laws may be weaker than in other places. That being said, there are several things you should know before signing any lease agreement as a tenant:
How To Legally Screw Over Your Landlord
Understand Your Rental Agreement
Before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to make sure you understand everything that’s being asked of you. In addition to the amount of rent, your lease agreement will likely include information about how much notice you are required to give to vacate the premises and an explanation as to what happens if you break the lease.
Get Everything in Writing
This might seem like common sense, but it’s important to get everything in writing. This includes your rental agreement, a list of the condition of the property upon move-in, and a list of any repairs that need to be made before you move out. Keeping records of all of this documentation can help protect you further down the road, should a dispute arise.
Check the Condition of the Property
Depending on your rental agreement, you might be responsible for the cost of fixing any damages to the property before you move out. If you want to avoid this, you can request a condition report when you move in. This report should include a detailed list of all existing damage and defects so you know what you’re getting into.
Be Proactive About Repairs
Even if your landlord has agreed to make repairs, it might take a while before they actually get around to it. To get these repairs taken care of as soon as possible, you should first talk to your landlord about when they plan on making the repairs. If you don’t hear back from them, you can write a follow-up letter asking them to make the repairs as soon as possible and include the applicable laws that apply to your situation. You can also call your local building department or health department to report the problem and request a code enforcement inspection. If the problem is serious enough, there’s a chance the authorities will make the repairs for your landlord and bill them for it. If you need to make a few repairs yourself, check with your landlord first to see if it’s okay. If they agree, keep a detailed log of the work you did and the cost of materials.
Consider Paying for a Conditional Repairs Letter
If you want to make sure something gets fixed but don’t want to risk confrontation with your landlord, you can hire a contractor to write a conditional report. In this report, the contractor will detail the repairs they believe need to be made, but they will also write that the repairs are contingent on you paying for them. When you present this report to your landlord, they’ll know what needs to be fixed but they won’t be able to call you out for not paying for the work yourself.
Befriend Your Neighbors and Staff Members
If you have neighbors who are also renting from the same landlord, you may be able to find out about their experiences and whether or not they’re satisfied with the property. You can do the same with the staff members at the rental office. By getting to know these people and keeping an open channel of communication, you can better understand how the rental process works and get a better idea of what to expect.
Be Aware of Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
Landlords have a lot of rights, but they also have a lot of responsibilities. For example, landlords must provide safe and livable conditions for tenants. If they fail to provide these conditions, a tenant can report them to the authorities and have them fined or even evicted. To avoid this, make sure you report any problems you find with your rental as soon as possible and get any repairs done as soon as possible. You can also make a note of these issues in your rental agreement and try to work with your landlord to get them resolved before they become serious problems. If you’re a renter, it can sometimes feel like you have no control over your living situation. The good news is, that there are ways to protect yourself from bad landlords. By understanding your rental agreement, getting everything in writing, checking the condition of the property, being proactive about repairs, and being aware of landlord rights and responsibilities, you can better protect yourself and make the most out of your rental experience.
A landlord is bound by law to provide safe and habitable housing for tenants. As a renter, you have several rights in the event that your landlord does not uphold these obligations. Make sure that you understand your rental agreement, get everything in writing, inspect the condition of the property, be proactive about repairs, consider paying for a conditional repairs letter, befriend your neighbors and staff members, and be aware of landlord rights and responsibilities.
Q: What if my landlord refuses to give me a copy of the rental agreement?
A: You can still get a written agreement if you ask for one. If you don’t have a written agreement, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to provide you with one. That means they must send you a copy of their own or the previous tenant’s written agreement with them and they must give it to you in writing. This isn’t something that can be done over the phone or through email. If your landlord refuses to give you a copy of their rental agreement, they’re not being fair; they’re violating the terms of your rental agreement, which may lead to eviction proceedings and legal action on your behalf if necessary.
Q: What if my landlord doesn’t fix things that are broken?
A: You have rights under your rental agreement and state law when it comes to damage repair. If something is broken or damaged, notify your landlord in writing within 72 hours of discovering the problem (the time starts once you’ve discovered it). This gives them enough time to make any necessary repairs, but once 72 hours have passed and no repairs have been made, you are responsible for repairing any damages caused by their negligence.
Q: Can I be evicted from my apartment without cause?
A: No! Your tenancy at will is protected by law in all 50 states and territories. This means that as long as there is no fraud involved, no intentional act of abuse toward another person or their property, and no intentional act of damage to the property, you are entitled to a tenancy at will.