One of the common areas of dispute in the real estate industry is between a landlord and a tenant. This is because, during most tenancy agreements, neither the tenant nor the landlord hires a real estate attorney or landlord-tenant attorney to draft the paperwork and ascertain its content as to each party’s duties and rights.
The laws related to landlords and tenants tend to vary in each state and area. This means that there would be variations as to what constitutes a right or a duty on behalf of the landlord and the tenant. What is prevailing in one area, could be a prohibition or unavailable in another.
Due to this complexity, it is always advised to hire a professional landlord-tenant attorney before furnishing and entering a legally binding tenancy contract. This helps in avoiding any issues that might be discovered by either party to the agreement at a later stage and which could put each other’s stake at great risk.
Although the nature of issues that can cause a dispute between a landlord and his tenant is usually quite small and easy to resolve, not knowing the correct manner in how to negotiate it might put each party on the edge of getting into a legal battle.
This article covers different aspects of how a landlord-tenant attorney could save each party’s rights while compelling the other to fulfill their duties should a legal dispute arise. In addition, it also guides on how to find the right type of landlord-tenant attorney for your needs and what are the instances in which a tenant and a landlord should definitely seek legal advice.
What is a landlord-tenant attorney?
A landlord-tenant attorney is a type of real estate attorney that specializes in dealing with affairs related to or which occur due to the existence of the relationship between a landlord and a tenant in the form of a tenancy agreement.
Landlord-tenant attorneys may represent the landlord or the tenant or both where they mutually have hired such attorneys to arrange the paperwork such as a lease for a tenancy agreement, to act as a mediator to settle any dispute between them, or even to represent either party during a courtroom trial.
Hiring a landlord-tenant attorney – who and when
The following are some of the examples where a landlord or a tenant may find it necessary to hire a landlord-tenant attorney.
When should a landlord hire a landlord-tenant attorney?
Landlords who are in the regular business of letting out different properties on rent usually have a real estate attorney take care of all the legal disputes and issues related to tenants. A landlord-tenant attorney can become helpful for a landlord in the following matters –
To fend off alleged charges of discrimination in a suit or investigation
The fair housing laws dictate that landlord should lend their properties on rent to people without considering any factors of discrimination or biases based on religion, race, ethnicity, skin color, gender, etc.
However, even if a landlord adheres to the anti-discrimination policies, a tenant may file a false charge for investigation with the fair housing agency or may even sue the landlord for this.
Therefore, to fend off these charges in a legal manner, a landlord might require the professional help of a landlord-tenant attorney.
To evict a tenant
Depending on the procedure of eviction as per the law in your state, a simple notice of eviction might be enough to get your property emptied.
However, in the case of an eviction lawsuit which shouldn’t take much time to settle, chances for a landlord to win a case might be narrowed by the judge considering the circumstances of the tenant.
In addition to this, federal laws also dictate favoring the tenants to a maximum extent because they are less resourceful than the landlord, hence are at more risk of suffering from an unfavorable outcome.
Therefore, it is important to initiate all legal proceedings after consulting with your landlord-tenant attorney. Hiring a landlord-tenant attorney might become important in the following events of eviction.
- When it is the first eviction, and the landlord clearly doesn’t know the consequences but for sure is in no mood to complicate the matter by taking things into his own hands.
- The tenant has filed a countersuit or a suit to stop the eviction process.
- Tenant is being evicted because of the termination of some other relationship between them such as an employer and an employee.
- The tenant has filed for bankruptcy.
- Tenant needs to be evicted because of non-compliance with the rental agreement or tenant duties.
- The tenant either failed to provide the necessary information such as his income or source of financing the rental obligations or made false representations while signing the tenancy agreement which would have been crucial in altering the decision of the landlord to whether or not to pursue a tenancy agreement with the tenant.
To defend yourself in a suit by the tenant claiming damage of property or injury
In certain cases, a tenant might sue the landlord to recover charges or damages against suffering from a loss, injury, or damage due to the negligence of the landlord.
For example, the landlord failed to fumigate the property which rendered it hazardous to the health of the tenants and their guests. Subsequently, the tenant or the guest contracted a disease or injury because of this and thereby sued the landlord to recover their damages such as any medical expenditures.
Another example could be if the landlord failed to make the necessary repairs such as in the case of a leaking roof because of which the rainwater damaged the furniture or other property of the tenant.
When should a tenant hire a landlord-tenant attorney?
Just like the tenant, the landlord may also in certain circumstances file a lawsuit against the tenant or show negligence in fulfilling his duties to the tenant, in which case the tenant may require seeking legal help from a landlord-tenant attorney.
Legal notice of eviction
Even though a landlord may have served a notice of eviction keeping up with all the legal laws and procedures, hiring a landlord-tenant attorney can cause delay or stop the eviction process completely. Landlord-tenant attorneys specialize in handling eviction cases and know what concerns to raise before the judge to get the eviction case dismissed at its earliest.
Landlord using threatening or unlawful strategies for eviction of the tenant
In certain cases, the landlord without referring to the proper rules of eviction might resort to using other strategies to evict the tenant such as by infringing the tenant’s right to utilities, etc. In such a case, a tenant should immediately consult a landlord-tenant attorney to stop the landlord from proceeding any further with his unlawful actions.
Discrimination by the landlord
As mentioned above, the HUD and fair housing laws prohibit landlords from using discriminatory behavior against any tenants. But in case a landlord does use discriminatory remarks or biases against a tenant, a tenant should either file a complaint about an investigation of the matter with the HUD and fair housing agencies or file a suit against the landlord for his derogatory actions.
The landlord is intentionally delaying in fulfilling his duties to the tenants
Sometimes a landlord may be deliberately causing a delay in fulfilling his duties as the owner of the property, thereby creating trouble for the tenant or making him vulnerable to suffer from a loss, damage, or injury.
In such a case, the tenant should seek legal guidance by hiring a landlord-tenant attorney.
How to Evict a Process For Landlords and Tenants?
The very first thing you should keep in mind is that you cannot evict tenants from your property yourself. There is a need to terminate a tenant legally either by fulfilling a lawsuit and eviction detainer suit or by leasing it with a legal notice. Moreover, you can terminate your case with a cause or without a cause. It’s up to you whether you want to evict with a cause or without a cause as follows:
a- Termination With Cause
Such termination of eviction can only take place for purposes like rental agreement violation. Being a landlord, you can terminate your tenant by leasing to evict it in the following three ways:
- Cure Notice
Whenever a tenant violates a leasing agreement, you can state the need to the tenant to cure the defect. For this purpose, tenants usually spend enough time on its cure. If the defect is not able to be cured, you can use the option of moving out.
- Fail to Pay Rent
In some situations, tenants don’t pay rent to the landlord due to certain failures. If you are facing such an issue, you can either evict the termination or demand rent. Sometimes tenants fail to pay rent even after consecutive demands from the landlord. Never forget to send a notice to pay rent or move out 3 to 5 days before evicting it.
- Quit Notice
Sometimes landlords give unconditional quit notices to tenants when there is no cure for tenant agreement violations. In such a scenario, the landlord can vacate the property without any cure for violation.
b- Termination Without Cause
Even if there is no reason, your landlord can ask you to move out and vacate premises. But the landlord should send a proper notice for termination. Such legal notice is usually given to tenants one or two months in advance. Before terminating the lease, make sure that whether your state allows the landlord to end the lease or not.
How to make a landlord-tenant agreement successful?
Almost every landlord experiences some legal pitfalls in the agreement. If you are also experiencing such problems, you should be vigilant. It’s not necessary that you have to face all complex scenarios like others. You can make your landlord-tenant agreement successful without any hassles by hiring a landlord-tenant attorney near me.
Here are some main tips that you should implement for the success of the agreement:
1- Write Everything To Keep A Record
Make sure you have all the agreements in written form. Whether it’s your security deposit or leasing agreement, keep it in the written record. You must communicate with the tenant before he rents out the property.
2- Give Legal Notice Before Entering into Tenant’s Premises
Even if you are the landlord of the property, you cannot enter the premises without legal notice. To keep things fair, you should send a legal notice prior to entering into the tenant’s place.
3- Build a Fair Security Deposit System
You should maintain an encrypted fair security deposit system to manage and collect your security deposits. Never keep holding a security deposit for too long to pay rent, leading to property damage.
4- Process a Background Check on Tenants
Another thing that is very essential for making agreements successful is conducting background checks on tenants. Such conduct involves employment history, credit check, and criminal check to evaluate whether tenants will be able to pay rent in the future or not. Moreover, it’s your legal right to be aware of the person who is going to rent your property.
5- Seek Your Property Insurance
Never forget to obtain insurance for your property to keep it safe from tenants’ lawsuits and liabilities. It’s because often landlords get worried about the property damage. Landlord tenant attorney California has set insurance terms for renting out property to tenants.
6- Disclose All Dangerous Conditions
If there is something or some area of your property that is dangerous, you should disclose it. From time to time, you should warn them to repair the damaged part of your property. Moreover, ask them to eliminate any hazardous activity affecting the health of your property.
7- Take Property Pictures
Another thing that will be helpful in keeping your agreement free from conflicts is capturing pictures of the property. It’s for the purpose of maintaining the condition of your property as evidence. It will save you and your tenant from fighting upon the minor property damages.
8- Maintain Your Property Condition
Keep the condition of your property up to date even when the tenant is living in your house. If a tenant asks you about repairing any part of your property, pay proper attention.
Tips on finding the best landlord-tenant attorney near me
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the success of your case highly depends on how experienced is the landlord-tenant attorney you hire. A few tips that could help you in this regard are –
- If you already have a lawyer for some other issues, you could ask him to refer your case to an attorney who excels in landlord-tenant issues.
- Go online and search for a landlord-tenant attorney near me and a list of attorneys practicing in your area will appear.
- Try to shortlist the attorneys you have found based on their experience. Also, check how well they seem likely to suit your case.
- Ask for appointments and discuss your matter in detail to understand how well they understand your needs. Some attorneys might be willing to give first a free consultation session. Also, they will demonstrate their skills in solving landlord-tenant disputes.
- Discuss fees and billing schedules for and when their services are required.
- If satisfied, hire the attorney. However, if you do not exactly get your desired level of service, discuss the matter with your attorney.
You can prevent landlord-tenant disputes by hiring a landlord-tenant attorney from the very beginning. Also, most issues between a landlord and a tenant can easily be negotiated and settled voluntarily.
Nevertheless, if either one seeks legal resolution through a court, no matter how much experience the other party has, it is always better to hire a landlord-tenant attorney.