If you rent your home, you may have a host of rights that you know nothing about. Real estate law terms can be complicated. There are a lot of unscrupulous landlords out there who will take advantage of tenants who are not as familiar with real estate law terms. Luckily, Curbed Los Angeles has compiled a list of things that most tenants in the city may not know. Here they are:
- Just because your apartment is not up not to code does not mean the protections do not apply you to. Around the city, there are a lot of apartments that have not been renovated to really be rented legally. Some people living in them believe this is not true. Real estate law firms recommend people in this situation take care when paying their rent. California real estate lawyers recommend paying the rent by check — every month — and both including a note in the memo field that says what the check is for. Keeping copies of the canceled checks and receipts can also help if documentation is needed.
- Landlords are legally obligated to provide housing that can be lived in. Furthermore, they need to take care of their properties. That means the roof and walls need to be properly maintained, the home needs to have hot water and heating and the doors and windows need to work and not be in bad shape. Lastly, apartment buildings and stand-alone units need to be free of roaches and rats.
- When something changes the livability of the home, the landlord needs to intercede immediately. If the heat breaks in the middle of the winter, they are not allowed to dilly dally when it comes to fixing the problem. If they do not do this, they are legally not allowed to accept rent for the cold home. What tenants should do, however, is not stop paying the rent, if they are asked for it. If the home becomes uninhabitable there are real estate law firms that can help and legal aid. There is also the Housing Rights Center.
- Tenants should put complaints in writing. It is never a bad thing to start off with a conversation with the landlord to talk about the problems with the home. If that fails to yield any movement, the next step to more formal communication such as a certified letter detailing the issues the tenant wants the landlord to deal with or fix. Photos with timestamps and dates can be very helpful. The city’s Housing and Community Investment Department can also help.
- Tenants can sue their landlord if a problem is not fixed within two months. Real estate law terms in California allow tenants to sue the owner of the property if the needed repairs are not fixed after a period of 20 days.
- There are limits to when a landlord can enter a property. Barring emergency situations, real estate law terms dictate that the tenant be given at least 24 hours notice before the landlord plans to enter the space. No matter what their reason, whether they are making repairs that were asked for or showing the place. Regardless of why they want in, they need to do it during normal business hours, unless something else has been arranged in advance.
- There are rules that govern the security deposit. It should be a well-known fact that the security deposit that is given when a person or family moves into a unit should be returned when they move out, minus any problems that were caused by the tenants. This is one of the basic real estate law terms that is almost the same all over the United States. If the unit in question is one that is rent controlled, the tenants there should collect interest on the security deposit.
- There is no-fault eviction protection for rent-controlled units. If the tenant has not committed any infractions. There are only a few instances where a tenant can be kicked out. Unfortunately, that is not at all true for people who live in houses and apartments that are not rent-controlled.
There are a lot of advantages to renting a home, it is best if would be tenants learned their rights before signing a lease.