Landlord-Tenant Law

The modern law of landlord and tenant has historical roots dating to medieval England.  Today in the U.S. landlord-tenant law is governed primarily by state law.  The law differs widely from one jurisdiction to another.

Federal law plays a role.  Federal fair housing laws apply nation-wide.  Usually there are state and local fair housing laws that may amend the federal law with additional protections and requirements.  Also, federal law concerning lead based paint applies to residential tenancies.  Some tenants may receive Section 8 voucher benefits which are regulated by federal law.

Different laws usually apply to commercial tenancies as opposed to residential tenancies.  In some jurisdictions there are laws specific to other types of tenancies, such as mobile home lots.

Though there is a great variation in landlord-tenant law there have been some attempts at more uniformity, most notably the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.  Even so, the various states that have adopted the URLTA have often amended it upon and/or after adoption.  Also, the courts in these states may not interpret the URLTA consistently.

Landlord-Tenant Blog

Warranty of Habitability

Originally, a landlord had no duty to present the rental in a habitable condition, or to make any repairs to keep it in a habitable condition. The only obligations the landlord had were the terms and conditions in the lease contract. This is still true of commercial tenancies, but in residential tenancies a warranty of […]

Rent Control Coming to Washington?

There is a widely-held consensus among economists—of both the “left” and “right” of economic thought—that rent control is bad economic policy. Consider these observations of economist Paul Krugman: The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and among economists, anyway—one of the least controversial.  In 1992 a poll of […]

Trump Administration Threatens Marijuana Businesses

The Trump administration recently announced that it is rolling back Obama administration polices that had tolerated marijuana businesses where legal under state law.  Federal prosecutors are now free to enforce federal laws against marijuana, even if legal under local state law.  [1] The sale and use of marijuana has remained illegal under federal law, despite […]

$100,000 in Attorney Fees Awarded in Service Animal Dispute

A Florida condominium resident who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was awarded $5,000 in damages by a jury and over $100,000 in attorney fees by the court.[1] The condominium association had a twenty-five pound weight restriction for dogs. Ajit Bhogaita, a resident, acquired a dog that exceeded the weight limit. Bhogaita suffered from PTSD […]

Property Damaged By Tenants – What Should You Do?

Sadly, it is not unusual for tenants facing eviction to take ‘revenge’ (or to recoup what they see as their losses) by damaging your property or stealing things like appliances. Obviously this is not a situation in which any landlord wishes to find themselves. Tenant-inflicted damage (especially if willful and malicious) can cost thousands of dollars to […]

Evicting a Family Member

In many jurisdictions the typical expedited eviction process is not available to evict a family member. In some jurisdictions, rather than evicting a family member through the unlawful detainer process – which is the expedited eviction process applicable to landlord-tenant relationships – the family member can only be evicted through an ejectment action, which is […]

Looking For Honesty Is The Best Policy

Looking For Honesty Is The Best Policy The vast majority of those in rented accommodation are good tenants who pay their rent on time and never cause their landlords any unnecessary trouble. Unfortunately however sometimes a good tenant can go bad and what was a happy, mutually beneficial relationship breaks down with it. On other […]

When to Evict?

When To Evict? How New Landlords Can Know When To Start Eviction Proceedings All landlords would happily go their whole lives without having to evict any of their tenants. When eviction proceedings are called for, it means that something has obviously gone very wrong in the agreement. Making the decision to evict can be a very difficult […]

The Fair Credit Reporting Act and Landlord-Tenant Law

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) went into effect in 1971.  It regulates consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), the use of reports, and furnishers of information to CRAs. Some states have similar statutes.[1] CRAs CRAs must utilize reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy of information and must conduct an investigation after a consumer disputes […]

Landlord Duty to Deliver Possession

“English” Rule The covenant to deliver possession is enforceable against the landlord when a third party wrongfully remains in possession at the time the tenant is entitled to possession. The landlord’s obligation is to ensure actual possession, not a mere right of possession. This is the long-established rule in England and is followed by a […]