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

Seattle First in Time Law Upheld

The Washington State Supreme Court recently upheld the Seattle First in Time law. Landlords had challenged the law as unconstitutional. A trial court struck down the First in Time law, but the Supreme Court overturned the trial court and upheld the law. Seattle residential landlords must post their rental criteria and documentation needed for each […]

Portland Passes Tenant Screening Restrictions

The Portland, Oregon city council recently passed new laws restricting landlords in screening for rental applicants. Landlords must give 72 hours notice before accepting applications, then are required to accept the first qualified applicant. The income and credit score requirements landlords may use are capped. Landlords’ use of criminal background checks is limited. The new […]

Rent Control Coming to Oregon

Oregon is expected to enact rent control in the near future. Is this a good idea? A consensus of economists is that it is a bad idea. Liberal and conservative economists both conclude that rent control is bad economics. In a 1992 survey the American Economic Association found 93% of economists agreed that a “ceiling […]

service animal

Companion Animals and Fair Housing

You sometimes see signs in restaurants prohibiting all animals except service animals. Service animals and emotional support animals are not the same things. Different laws apply to service animals and emotional support animals. The definition of service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act is a dog trained to do work or perform tasks for […]

Justice Department Combats Sexual Harassment of Tenants

The US Justice Department last October announced the Sex Harassment Initiative  to combat sexual harassment of tenants, proclaiming that “No woman should be made to feel unsafe in her own home.” Two months later the Justice Dept. filed  a lawsuit against a Kansas landlord on allegations he sexually harassed tenants. The sexual harassment lawsuit is based on allegations […]

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 […]