Fitness for habitation
Tenants have the basic entitlement to the private, lawful and peaceful possession and use of their dwelling. It must be structurally sound, fit for dwelling and meet other requirements:
- Comply with local health building and safety codes.
- Equipped with working plumbing, hot water and heating.
- Free of pests.
- Have reasonable security including properly working and locking windows and doors.
- Tenants may not be evicted for valid complaints about conditions to proper authorities.
Landlords must also pay for repairs necessary to make the rented property habitable. They are required to provide reasonable and notice before inspecting the premises or making necessary or agreed-upon repairs. This notice may be shortened or waived in an emergency.
In limited and serious circumstances, tenants may withhold rent for landlord negligence. For this to occur, tenants must comply with strict requirements including providing 7 days’ notice for repairs, save the rent money and seek court permission to make repairs.
Landlords may require a security deposit but must:
- Keep it during the tenancy.
- Return the full amount within 15 days after the tenant leaves the dwelling or give notice of any withholding within 30 days after the tenant leaves. Tenants then have 15 days to object in writing to withholding.
Tenants should give landlords their new address for receipt of the security deposit when they move out.
Tenants must meet comply with responsibilities or face eviction. These include:
- Pay required rent on time.
- Comply with building, housing and health codes.
- Maintain the property and plumbing without damage.
- Keep the dwelling clean.
- Comply with the law and not disturb the peace.
Landlords cannot evict a tenant without giving notice and getting a court order after a hearing where a tenant may appear. Without a court order, landlords cannot interfere with tenants, withhold their property, lock them out or interfere with their utilities.
Numerous laws impact rented property and set forth other rights and responsibilities. An attorney can help protect tenant and landlord rights.