9 Expensive Lies Your Landlord Might Tell You
In the ideal rental situation, your landlord would be upfront about the condition of the property, charge you fair rent, and do everything possible to fix problems before they even arise.
However, if you’ve ever rented a home, you know that finding a good landlord can be difficult. Fortunately, tenants have rights, and just because your landlord says something doesn’t mean it’s true.
If you hear your landlord telling any of the following lies, you have every right to push back. And if you haven’t signed a rental contract yet, you can reduce your financial stress just walking away.
1. I can enter whenever I want
As a tenant, you are temporarily renting someone else’s property. It makes sense that you believe a landlord who says he has the right to come to your house whenever he wants.
However, once you sign the lease, the landlord’s property is legally considered yours until the end of the lease. While your landlord still has legal obligations, like making sure your property is in good repair, they can’t break into your home without warning.
Each state has different rules regarding when a landlord can enter a tenant’s property, including how much notice the landlord must give before coming in for a quick fix.
No matter where you live in the United States, however, landlords cannot enter the property you rent to them without warning, except in extremely specific situations.
2. I can evict you without notice
Landlords might tell you that because you’re occupying property they own, they can force you to move out without warning.
But in most situations and states, evicting a tenant without warning is illegal, even if the landlord provides a reason such as “my loved ones need housing” or “I want to raise the rent and find tenants who can afford to pay me more”. ”
A landlord must usually give you written notice of your eviction. They must also follow the terms set out in their lease before they can evict you. For example, if your lease has expired, a landlord may evict you instead of renewing it.
But for the most part, they can’t evict you in the middle of a tenancy unless you haven’t paid the rent or have significantly damaged the property.
3. I can keep your security deposit
In most states, landlords can require a security deposit to pay for repairs that need to be done after you move out. Landlords can also take money from your deposit if you don’t pay rent or violate another financial term of your rental agreement.
However, landlords cannot use your deposit to cover the typical wear and tear costs that occur each time someone occupies a property. These costs are legally considered the owner’s responsibility, not yours.
If your landlord tells you ahead of time that you probably won’t get any of your deposit back, that’s a huge warning sign.
And if you don’t get any of your money back even though you had up-to-date rent and didn’t damage the property, you might be able to sue the landlord to get your money back.
4. I can increase your rent at any time
While landlords are allowed to raise rents for their tenants, there are plenty of legal protections in place to prevent them from doing so haphazardly and without warning.
As with evicting tenants, landlords usually have to give written notice that they are increasing your rent; they can’t ask you to pay more right away.
Nor can landlords charge you whatever they want. In addition to federal regulations governing fair rent, most states have codes and guidelines that govern how much landlords are allowed to charge.
5. I can use your security deposit to pay for routine cleaning
Although your landlord can use your security deposit money to pay for major damage you cause to their property, they cannot use your security deposit (or charge you a fee) to pay for regularly scheduled cleanings, such as cleaning carpet or pest control. .
They also can’t ask you to pay for routine cleaning before you move in or move out, even if they’ve written payment for cleaning into your contract.
6. I may charge you additional fees, including late fees
It’s true that landlords can charge late payment fees in most states. However, landlords must comply with state laws that list how much they can charge and what exactly “overdue” means when it comes to late payment.
Also, if your landlord doesn’t list late fees in your lease, they certainly can’t retroactively add and collect late fees.
7. I don’t need to fix problems or pay for repairs
Landlords are legally obligated to fix issues that make their property uninhabitable. “Uninhabitable” is a pretty broad term, but a residence is considered uninhabitable if it doesn’t meet your city, county, or state’s building codes.
For example, Arizona homeowners must include and repair air conditioning for their property to be considered habitable.
If your landlord tells you they won’t fix a problem that’s affecting your quality of life on their property, check your state’s tenant rights and building codes.
You may be legally entitled to refuse to pay rent until the issue is resolved or to take your landlord to court if they don’t resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Also remember that landlords should cover the costs of these repairs out of pocket, not by charging you extra rent or withholding your security deposit.
8. I don’t have to deal with hazards on the property
A landlord doesn’t necessarily have to disclose every potential problem with their property, especially minor issues like a leaky toilet or a leaky faucet.
But they must disclose conditions that could pose a huge health risk to their tenants, including mold, lead, or asbestos.
The landlord doesn’t always have to fix these issues before you move in, but they do need to let you know so you can decide whether or not to agree to the terms.
If you or the landlord detect any unsafe conditions in the middle of your lease, the landlord must fix them to ensure the property is habitable and up to code.
9. If you are behind on rent, I can cut off your utilities or seize your property
Landlords can take certain legal actions if you stop paying rent, such as serving you with an eviction notice or using your bond money to cover rent.
However, landlords can’t take your personal property as collateral if you don’t pay rent. They also cannot shut off the utilities that make a property habitable, such as gas, water, or electricity.
At the end of the line
Even if a landlord includes an illegal and costly provision in a rental agreement you signed, they cannot legally enforce that provision. If your landlord has told any of these lies to your face or written them into your contract, push them away.
Renting someone else’s property doesn’t mean you have to hand over every penny they ask for, especially if you’re already struggling to find ways to pay rent each month.
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