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What are the legal obligations of every landlord?

Landlords must fulfill certain obligations toward tenants. The law enforces these rules so that renters have basic protections.

The poor are most vulnerable to predatory landlords. That said, any renter could wind up in a situation that requires legal help.

Landlord obligations

The Fair Housing Act requires that landlords never discriminate. They may not deny housing or charge individuals more because of race, gender, or ethnicity. Complaints can happen before or after someone signs an agreement with a landlord.

Landlords need to give every tenant a copy of the lease. This vital document details the housing arrangement parameters for everyone.

Living quarters must be in proper condition. Electrical systems have to be working. There is the expectation that plumbing dispenses hot water. Spaces must be free of vermin. States have different standards on the speed with which landlords may complete repairs.

Tenants have legal protection against entry without permission. Commonly, landlords need to give official notice ahead of entering occupied properties.

Landlord punishments

The consequences of violating these laws and others are severe. Civil penalties can be as much as $16,000 for a single violation. If another happens within seven years, the penalty can go up to $65,000. Fines vary by state.

Guilty landlords are responsible for the legal expenses of the plaintiff. Additionally, pain and anguish sometimes increase the amount guilty landlords must pay. The best path to winning in court is hiring an experienced attorney in this legal area.

When there is a breach of tenant rights, infringing parties must pay. These laws exist to protect renters and keep them safe from injustice.