What Are Landlord Rights

In the arena of landlord and tenant law, the rights of tenants are generally favored over the rights of landlords. As a landlord, however, you need to understand certain landlord rights and responsibilities. When you rent property to another party, you enter into a contract that governs and establishes a landlord-tenant relationship between you and the renter. This contract, as well as landlord and tenant laws, solidifies your duties in the landlord-tenant relationship. Though landlord rights differ slightly from state to state and among different jurisdictions, some basic landlord rights can protect your interest in your property.

Making a Profit
The law recognizes that primary among landlord rights is the right to realize income from your property. Most rental properties are investment properties, and most landlords are in the business of renting for profit. As such, the first landlord right you have is to receive rent from your tenant for the use and enjoyment of your property. You have the right to receive money on time and in full, according to the provisions of the rental contract. The law recognizes that you need rent paid in a timely manner, as you have obligations of your own, such as mortgages, insurance premiums, taxes, repairs and payroll for property employees.

Another important landlord right is that you receive the property at the end of the rental agreement in the same condition in which you initially rented it, except for the wear and tear resulting from a tenant's reasonable use. A security deposit ensures that the tenant is responsible for costs associated with returning the property to its original condition, and the deposit can be included in the rental agreement. It is important to understand the difference between normal depreciation and neglect that can occur when tenants refuse to maintain your property in a reasonable condition. As such, you should expect your tenants to maintain the property. This includes keeping it clean and avoiding damage to the property.

This expectation coincides with another landlord right, the right to protect your investment. This can include regular inspections and entering the property upon reasonable notice. Generally a 24-hour notice to the tenant that you intend to enter the property is sufficient. You also have the right to enter the property without notice in the event of an emergency, which can include the threat of immediate damage to the property such as flooding, or the potential for imminent harm to the tenant.

Your landlord rights also include requiring the tenants to notify you when they plan to leave town for an extended time period. This is particularly important when trying to maintain the property or if your tenants have some sort of contractual duty to maintain the outside of their property, such as clearing sidewalks of snow and debris. Another key to maintaining the property is to fix any damage to the property promptly. As such, your rights extend to an expectation that your tenants request any repairs in a timely manner. As a landlord, you can expect such requests in writing, as long as the rental contract specifies this. It is also reasonable for tenants to abide by the terms of the rental contract and to give sufficient notice, usually as specified in the contract, if they intend to break the contract and move out.

Eviction
Should your tenant fail to pay rent and maintain the property in a reasonable manner, the most important landlord right you have is to evict your tenant. This can be tricky, as the law protects tenants to a greater degree than it does landlords. The law, however, does recognize that you are in the business of renting property in order to make a profit, and if the tenant's behavior makes that impossible, you do have recourse. Generally, unless otherwise specified in the contract, if rent is more than seven days past due, you may proceed with the eviction process. This grace period can be longer or shorter if specified in the rental agreement. The eviction process begins with sending notice to your tenant that you intend to proceed with eviction unless the rent is paid within a certain time period.

If the tenant ignores the notice you've given him and you want the tenant out of the property, your landlord rights extend to filing a complaint for eviction in court. A number of attorneys specialize in landlord and tenant law, and most successful landlords have a landlord and tenant attorney they turn to for eviction proceedings. The eviction process can result in a hearing or trial, after which a judge or jury determines whether eviction is appropriate. If eviction is appropriate, your landlord rights may include judgment in past due rents, as well damages and possession of the property.

Landlord's Obligations
As a trade-off for these landlord rights, it becomes your responsibility to provide a habitable space for your tenant and to make repairs promptly and whenever necessary. You have the responsibility to ensure the property has appropriate wiring, plumbing and weather-proofing. In exchange for your landlord rights, you also have the obligation to respect your tenant's rights, which include the right to privacy and to possess your property in a peaceful manner, without undue interference or harassment from you. While one of your landlord rights is to enter the property upon reasonable notice, such intrusions should be kept to a minimum.

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