11 Things Landlords Don’t Want You To Know:

  • By: Peter Parker
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Landlords and tenants have a unique relationship.

One gets to hear many horror stories about renting homes,  starting from a landlord who refuses to take care of repairs and maintenance to someone who enters the house at their whim, without informing the tenant in advance. 

Though all landlords are not evil,  there are a few who make life uncomfortable for their tenants.

While landlords will always let you know about your responsibilities, they often do not want you to know about their duties and your rights.  

Here are some crucial things landlords don’t want you to know.

Reading and knowing about them before you sign the lease document will help to make the renting process smooth and easy. 

11 Things Landlords Don’t Want You To Know:

1. Significance of the start day in lease

Once the lease document is signed, the landlord has a duty to ensure that the property is ready for occupation on the date mentioned in the agreement – the start day.

If there are any outstanding maintenance works, he has to reimburse the expenses incurred by you while waiting for the property to be ready. 

The landlord has the duty to hand over the property in a good condition to the tenant. The property should be the same as shown at the time of inspection and must consist of all the furniture and fixtures present on that day.

For example, the landlord cannot replace furniture, appliances, etc. if you were shown a big refrigerator on the date of inspection, the landlord cannot replace it with a small one later. 

2. The end day of the lease is important as well 

The landlord cannot evict you from the property before the end day mentioned in the lease, without any legitimate reason. 

It is crucial to read the clauses in the lease agreement about the renewal of the lease. Most landlords require a 30 day or one-month notice if you plan to vacate the property at the end of the lease. Failing to do so may attract an additional month’s rent. 

3. Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants

Discriminating against tenants based on their color, race, gender, etc. is illegal but many landlords are found guilty. They often discriminate against tenants based on their preferences.

If you think your landlord discriminates against you, you can file a case in a court of law. 

4. Certain clauses in the lease are negotiable

No matter whether it is a lease for a private residence or a business property, they are written to protect the interests of the landlord.

The landlord has the home-court advantage, which cannot be taken away. However, certain clauses in the lease such as rent escalation, authorized alterations, rental renewal, etc. can be negotiated before finalizing the lease. 

5. The landlord needs to inform you before entering the premises

Though the property belongs to the landlord, he cannot conduct surprise checks on the property without your consent. The landlord must give due notice to the tenant before entering the house.

There are certain circumstances such as emergencies, pre-agreed repairs, etc. which permit landlords to enter the property without notice.

So, if your landlord frequently barges into your apartment without notice, consult a lawyer. 

6. Your security deposit must be returned along with interest

Once the lease expires, the landlord must return the security deposit within the lawful timeframe. Though the time frame changes from one state to another, in most states it is between 30 to 60 days. 

You are also entitled to receive interest on the money given as a security deposit. The interest rate depends on the prevailing interest rates at the time. 

The landlord is obliged to safely keep your security deposit and return it without any deductions, unless in permitted circumstances such as damage to the property, overdue rent, etc.

If the landlord deducts some amount, you must be provided with a detailed statement mentioning the reasons for the deduction. 

7. Details of the Common Area Maintenance Fee (CAM) 

Common area maintenance fee often adds up to your rent. But most landlords do not want you to know what is included in the CAM. It is essential to get a detailed breakdown of the CAM fee before signing the lease document. 

Costs like consulting fees, tax penalties, loan interests, structural repairs, income tax, business tax, payroll tax,  etc. are the responsibility of the landlord and must not be included in the CAM. 

8. Specifications of non-structural damages 

Most leases permit tenants to carry out non-structural alterations to the property. But the dispute between landlord and tenant arises when the definition of structural and non-structural is not clearly stated.

Read the fine print of the lease document carefully and discuss with the landlord about the clear specification of what constitutes non-structural alterations before signing on the dotted line. 

9. Rules about subletting the property

If the lease document states that you need to get the permission of the landlord before subletting the property, you may never be able to get a roommate. Landlords often decline your requests stating some reason or another. 

However, it is important to note that the federal housing law permits you to bring a roommate. A single bedroom apartment can accommodate 2 plus one people (3 people) including a child.

10. The landlord needs to resolve complaints in a timely manner

If the property is heavily damaged and inhabitable, the landlord must resolve the issues immediately.

Some examples include damaged doors and windows, leaking roofs or walls, damage by pests,  plumbing works, etc. The landlord cannot collect rent from tenants during the course of repairs to the property. 

If the landlord does not respond to your complaints, you can approach the housing authority to intervene in the matter and get the landlord to do the repairs.

If the landlord refuses to address the problem even after the third-party intervention, you can sue the landlord. 

11. Tenants have rights too

Tenants have the right to a habitable and clean home. Every state guarantees tenants a decent and safe home that protects them from natural occurrences like heat, rain, and snow, and is free from items that can cause health hazards. 

Before signing the lease document, you have to know the prevailing federal, state, and local housing laws to know your rights as a tenant. Here are some rights of tenants your landlord will never tell you

  • Right to ask the landlord, repairmen, or other maintenance contractors to leave the house at any time. 
  • Right to conduct a background check on the landlord
  • Right to negotiate the rent, security deposit, and other charges
  • Right to withhold rent if the apartment has serious repairs that damage your health or safety
  • The landlord must cover the expenses of pest control and extermination
  • You can voice your opinions on the property and the landlord does not have the right to increase the rent or decrease the service to punish you. 
  • The landlord cannot physically evict you from the property 
  • The landlord cannot change the locks and keys or do other things to make you move out of the property 

While all landlords are not evil, some of them are. They intentionally do not give out complete information to the tenants at the time of signing the lease.

Tenants have to be aware of their rights and go through the details of the lease document carefully.