How Odd Landlord-Tenant Laws Hurt Everyone
While some landlord and tenant laws are consistent from state to state, a number of states have odd laws that can make things difficult for everyone. Landlord-tenant laws are in place to give everyone fair access to housing, to help organize urban areas, and to protect both landlords and tenants. While the goal of these laws is to improve living conditions for everyone involved, there are plenty of landlord-tenant laws that miss the mark and simply complicate issues for all parties.
The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1972 (URLTA) was written in hopes of addressing this problem. It aimed to standardize landlord-tenant laws across the country, to get rid of archaic laws, and to clarify the rights of landlords and tenants. However, almost 50 years later, there are still a number of states that have not adopted URLTA or that have only adopted portions of it. The result is some odd laws throughout the country that can confuse and catch all parties off guard.
To avoid conflicts between landlords and tenants, it’s important that both parties know the relevant laws, understand their respective rights, and have clear expectations about their responsibilities. Unfortunately, unusual landlord-tenant laws can make this hard to do and can lead to confusion and disputes.
URLTA Did Not Get Rid of All Unusual Laws
Many landlords are surprised when they begin renting in different states to realize how different some state laws can be. As too many landlords have learned, a lack of familiarity with state-specific laws can lead to unintentional violations.
Here are just a few examples of some unusual laws that often surprise tenants and landlords: in Ohio and Massachusetts, landlords must keep security deposits in an interest-bearing account and pay tenants 5% interest annually; in Seattle, landlords are required to rent properties on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning that the first qualified applicant must get the property; in San Francisco, under certain circumstances, it’s legal for landlords to evict tenants to take residence in the rental property; and in New York, some tenants are legally given the right to a roommate.
Protecting Yourself from Unusual Laws
With some odd state laws across the country, it can be difficult for all parties to ensure that they’re complying with applicable laws. Unusual laws often lead to unintentional violations, which can be disruptive, time-consuming, and expensive. Further, this confusion inevitably leads to strained landlord and tenant relationships, which is not good for anyone.
The first step towards protecting yourself against odd laws is knowing all applicable landlord-tenant laws before buying or renting a property in a new city or state. With such varied laws around the country, this can be difficult to do, but ezLandlordForms offers a bank of resources on relevant state laws which can help make this process easier.
The next thing landlords should do to protect themselves is to ensure that they have a comprehensive lease that complies with all state laws and addresses any unusual issues. Too many landlords have one standard lease that they use from state-to-state. Unfortunately, this can lead to overlooking or violating key, state-specific laws.
To avoid this common issue, it’s important to always use state-specific leases. Doing so ensures that both parties have clear expectations and understand their respective rights and responsibilities. While this can be difficult if you have rental properties in a number of states, ezLandlordForms offers state-specific lease agreements that make this process simple and straight-forward for landlords.
Odd landlord-tenant laws often lead to misunderstandings and confusion between landlords and tenants, and for all too many landlords, unusual laws lead to unintentional violations. While some states have adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, making landlord and tenant rights predictable and consistent, there are still many states that have not adopted these laws or that only use parts of it. As a result, it’s essential for landlords and tenants to thoroughly research all applicable laws before renting in a new area. For questions or concerns about state laws, visit ezLandlordForms.com to get access to key resources and forms or to contact a local attorney.