Tenant

A landlord is a person or a company that owns a rental unit. The landlord rents or leases the rental unit to another person, called a tenant, for the tenant to live in. The tenant obtains the right to the exclusive use and possession of the rental unit during the lease or rental period.

Sometimes, the landlord is called the “owner,” and the tenant is called a “resident.”

A rental unit is an apartment, house, duplex, condominium, or room that a landlord rents to a tenant to live in. Because the tenant uses the rental unit to live in, it is called a “residential rental unit.”

Often, a landlord will have a rental agent or a property manager who manages the rental property. The agent or manager is employed by the landlord and represents the landlord. In most instances, the tenant can deal with the rental agent or property manager as if this person were the landlord. For example, a tenant can work directly with the agent or manager to resolve problems. When a tenant needs to give the landlord any notices, he or she can give the notice to the landlord’s rental agent or property manager.

The name, address and telephone number of the manager and an owner of the building (or other person who is authorized to receive legal notices for the owner) must be written in the rental agreement or lease, or posted conspicuously in the rental unit or building.

As the tenant you have certain rights, as well as obligations, which are outlined below…

The Rights and Obligations of Tenants

General Matters

a) You must pay the rent by the date it is due, and you have the right to obtain a receipt from the landlord.

b) Any security deposit and/or advance rent required from you by the landlord cannot exceed 150 percent of one month’s rent. However, you can voluntarily pay more than one-and-one-half month’s rent in advance.

c) You can get back the balance of any refundable security deposit within 14 business days after your rental agreement with the landlord has been terminated. However, the landlord may deduct any rent or other reasonable charges (which must be itemized in a written statement) from your security deposit.

d) Any redecorating or clean-up deposits which you pay are also returnable to you unless your rental agreement with the landlord states otherwise.

Rental Agreements and You

a) All blank spaces in a written rental agreement must be filled in, and you must receive a signed copy.

b) The agreement should indicate whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for paying specific utility bills.

c) Rental agreements remain in effect unless:

the landlord or tenant violates the conditions of the agreement, and proper notice is given to either party by the other;
both you and the landlord agree to end the agreement; or
either you or the landlord gives the other party proper notice that the agreement will be terminated.

d) Your landlord cannot raise your rent, except:

when the full term of any written rental agreement has expired;
after providing you with at least one month advance notice, in the case of a month-to-month agreement;
when a written rental agreement specifically provides for increases in the amount of your rent; or
when a transaction privilege tax on residential property is increased.

Condition of the Premises

a) You must keep the rental premises as clean and safe as the condition of the dwelling permits.

b) You must dispose of all garbage, rubbish and other wastes in a clean and safe manner.

c) You must keep all plumbing fixtures clean, and use appliances and supplied utilities in a reasonable manner.

d) You must allow the landlord to enter the rental premises for repairs/inspections at reasonable times, after the landlord has given you at least two days advance notice.

e) In an emergency, the landlord can enter without your consent.

Your Conduct

a) You must not damage or destroy any part of the rental premises.

b) You are responsible for the actions of your guests.

c) You are entitled to privacy and peaceful use of the premises. You must not act in a way which disturbs neighbors.

d) You must promptly return all keys to the landlord when you move out.

e) You must be truthful about information concerning occupants, pets, income, employment or criminal history.

Ending the Rental Relationship

a) When there is no dispute about rent being due:

If you are renting month-to-month, you must provide the landlord with written notice, at least 30 days before your next payment would be due, that you will be terminating the rental agreement.
If you are renting for a longer period you still may be required to provide the landlord with written notice of your intent to terminate the rental agreement.

Carefully read the terms of any agreement to see what requirements apply to you.

b) If you have fallen behind in your rent payments:

You can stay in the rental dwelling if you pay any past due rent and late charges within five calendar days of being given legal notice by the landlord of possible termination of your rental agreement.
If, after your landlord files suit against you, but before a judge issues a ruling, you pay the rent, late charges, court costs and reasonable attorney fees, you also can stay in the rental dwelling. Your landlord cannot force you to move out unless a judge grants an order for your eviction (called a Writ of Restitution), and the order is served on you (usually by a sheriff or constable). If judgment is in favor of the landlord in a special detainer case, the landlord has sole discretion regarding the reinstatement of the rental agreement.
If your landlord accepts a partial payment of the rent you owe, the landlord still may have the right to evict you unless you have a written agreement that allows you to stay.
You can be held liable for two months rent (or twice the amount of any damages you caused) after your rental agreement with your landlord is terminated if it is found that you willfully failed to act in good faith, according to the terms of your rental agreement.

Remedies Available to You

You may be entitled to two months free rent (or twice the amount of damages you may have suffered) if your landlord wrongfully locks you out of the dwelling or intentionally cuts off essential services.

Key Words

Business Days – Days on which the court is open; does not include weekends and holidays. (Never count the day a notice is delivered or the complaint is served; start counting the next day. Count calendar or business days as indicated.)

Calendar Days – Every day on the calendar, including weekends and holidays.

Judgment – A judge’s decision in a dispute.

Landlord – An owner or person who leases a residence to the tenant.

Notice – Actions or words which reasonably inform another party of something that is going to happen.

Premises – A dwelling unit, and the structure of which it is part, including the furniture, utilities and grounds associated with the rental property.

Rental Agreement – A written or oral contract for rental of the premises. If the tenant is renting for more than 12 months, the agreement must be in writing.

Tenant – A person entitled to occupy a rental dwelling.

Termination – The end of a rental agreement.

Writ of Restitution – An eviction order signed by a judicial officer.