A rental agreement is a legal contract between a landlord and a tenant, whereby a landlord allows a tenant to use and occupy its property for short time periods. When created, it becomes a binding contract, and both the tenant and the landlord can be liable for breach of rental agreement.
When you are renting a home or apartment and have a landlord, you of course want to have a good relationship with them. However, while you may be doing all you can to keep things going smoothly, your landlord may in fact in breach of rental agreement or be violating your rights as a renter in numerous ways.
To make sure you recognize when your landlord is breaching your rental agreement, here are six signs that will always point to a violation of your rights.
What is a Breach of a Rental Agreement?
When you rent a home or apartment from your landlord, you signed a contract known as a lease. A binding legal document, your lease contains various clauses that both you and your landlord agree to in order for you to rent the property.
A rental agreement breach occurs when your landlord does not meet any of the clearly spelled-out obligations set forth in the rental agreement. For example, if your rental agreement states that you are to pay $1,000 per month in rent but your landlord charges you $1,200 per month for no justifiable reason, they have committed a breach of contract.
When renting, it is always crucial that your rental agreement be in writing instead of simply being a verbal agreement between you and your landlord.
Even if you think you can trust your landlord and take them at their word, it is best to have the agreement in writing. The terms of your agreement should spell everything for the easy understanding by both parties.
If you only have a verbal contract and you believe a breach takes place, it may simply be your word against that of your landlord, making it harder for you to prove the breach and potentially win a lawsuit if you go to court.
6 Signs Your Landlord is Breaching Your Rental Agreement
When renting property from a landlord, here are six common signs that always point to a rental agreement breach.
A rental agreement breach takes place when your landlord uses deceptive advertising techniques to lure renters to their property and sign on the dotted line of a lease.
For example, if you sign a lease for a three-bedroom home but have a landlord who tries to stick you with a two-bedroom home, they have deceived you and thus are in violation of your rights as a renter.
If the landlord uses phony or outdated photos to advertise their property, this also constitutes a violation. Therefore, misrepresentation in general can breach the rental agreement, which in most cases people do request to view the property before signing a contract or agreement.
Ignoring Maintenance Requests
Your rental agreement states that your landlord will keep your property in proper working order. If they fail to make repairs to plumbing or other problems, they have violated the lease.
This also brings into question if the landlord replies to your message in a decent amount of time. In general, some people wait around 2-5 days in order to get a response.
Failure to Adhere to Building Codes
Your landlord is legally obligated to provide you with a home or apartment that meets the safety standards established by your locality.
Should your building be found to be unsafe due to structural problems, pest infestation, or other issues, this is a violation of the rental agreement unless otherwise stated within the contract.
Violating Tenant Privacy
Landlords are not allowed to simply walk into your residence whenever they wish. Instead, they must announce themselves prior to entering your home or apartment.
Should they fail to do this on a regular basis, your tenant rights are being violated and you should report your landlord to the proper authorities.
Many landlords or rental companies will schedule check-ins quarterly or bi-annually, so they get to see the property regularly and let you know about the inspection.
Changing Your Rent
Your rental agreement included how much your rent would be per month, when it would be due, and what forms of payment your landlord would accept.
The following may construe a violation if you live up to your end of the lease:
- tries to increase your rent without proper justification,
- tries to force you to pay your rent well before it’s due, or
- suddenly decides they only accept cash,
Forcing You Out
It is unlawful for your landlord to insist you vacate the property before your lease expires.
Unless the landlord can clearly show you have violated your lease terms, you are likely under no legal obligation to leave the premises.
What Should Always Be in Your Rental Agreement
Prior to you signing your rental agreement, there are certain things that should always be a part of the contract between you and your landlord.
- Always make sure the agreement contains the correct address of your home or apartment. If it does not and problems occur, it could complicate your situation even more.
- Next, the agreement should state what the landlord will include with your rental. This can include utilities, trash pickup, television or internet service, and even whether or not you can own a pet at your home or apartment.
- It is also crucial that your rental agreement clearly state your monthly rent and the amount of your security deposit. Along with the amount of rent, when it’s due, and how to pay it, the amount of your security deposit should also be stated and whether or not it will be returned to you should you move and leave the property in good condition.
While renting a home or apartment may seem straightforward, you now know there can be many pitfalls along the way.
By making sure your rental agreement is in writing, you know your rights as a tenant, and the signs that indicate your landlord is violating your lease, you can have peace of mind and few, if any problems between yourself and your landlord.
Written by Taylor McKnight, Author for Manfred Law