Landlord & Tenant - Rights and Duties

General Information about Landlord & Tenant Law

Length of Lease
  • If you have a lease that ends on a specific day, no notice is needed for it to end. It will end on the day written in the lease agreement. 
  • If you do not have a lease and pay your rent every month, you are a “month-to-month tenant”. You or your landlord may end the tenancy with a written notice, given 30 days in advance. 
  • If you do not have a lease and you pay rent every week, you are a “week-to-week tenant” and either you or your landlord may end the tenancy with a written notice, given 7 days in advance. 
Rental Agreements 
  • If you are behind in your rent, your landlord must give you at least a 5 day written notice, called a “Notice to Pay or Quit”. You must pay the rent you owe or move out within those five days. Afterward, an eviction can be filed against you in court. You can be evicted and lose access to public housing for up to three years.
  • You may be required to pay security or pet deposits, and the first and last month rent at the time you move in. 
  • You and your landlord may enter into a reasonable rental agreement as long as it follows state and federal law.  
  • When you rent, the landlord must tell you in writing the name and address of the manager, the owner, or other person who must accept written notices from you.
Lock Outs

Your landlord must first send you a summons and give you a chance to appear in court before changing your locks or moving you out. You may be able to sue your Landlord for if they do not follow this because it may be an illegal lock out. 

Security Deposit

This is the money you pay before you move in. It is to ensure that you leave the property clean and in good repair. Your landlord is required to keep your deposit in a separate tenants’ account. You may not use your deposit for your last month’s rent unless the landlord agrees. When you move out, you must give your Landlord a written request stating that you want your Security Deposit back and give a mailing address where the Landlord can mail you deposit. Your Landlord has 45 days from the date of the letter to return the deposit. If they keep all or part of the deposit, they must give you a list of damages and costs.

Public Housing

Special rights and rules may apply if you live in public housing. 

* Written Notice: A written statement of your intentions sent by certified mail to your landlord.

Tenant’s Rights

Move In: If the Landlord keeps you from moving in, you must give a written demand for your money back and include a mailing address. You may have to sue in Small Claims Court to get your money back.

Repairs: If your Landlord does not keep the property in good repair and the home’s condition is harmful to health or safety, you can either:

  • Repair & Stay: If the problem can be fixed for $100 or less, give the landlord written notice that if they don’t fix it within 14 days, you will fix it and deduct the money from next month’s rent. (After November 1st, 2022 the amount will increase to one month’s rent) You must give your landlord an itemized bill for the work done; OR,
  • Repair or Move out: You must give written notice that if the repair is not made within 14 days, you will move out 30 days from when your notice was sent and not pay more rent.

Unlivable: If the property is, or becomes “unlivable” or “uninhabitable,” or is dangerous, you may give the landlord written notice of the problem and move out right away. Speak with an attorney about what is “unlivable” or “uninhabitable”.

  • You cannot continue to live there if you claim it is unlivable and refuse to pay rent.

Utilities: If your landlord agrees to supply and then doesn’t supply heat, running hot and cold water, electricity, gas or other essential services you must give written notice of the problem and then you may:

  • End the rental with a written notice;  
  • Arrange for the service/repairs yourself and deduct the cost from the rent; 
  • Sue for the difference between monthly rent cost and what the service is worth (without the gas, etc.); OR,
  • Move during the time the service is off and not pay rent for that period.

Rules for the Landlord

At all times during a lease, the Landlord must keep the residence in good repair and keep the common areas in a safe, clean, and sanitary condition.

  • Apartments: Landlord is required to provide:
    • trash containers and removal, running water, hot water and heat;
    • air conditioning, but only if written in the lease.
  • Single family homes:
    • Tenant pays for utilities and trash removal, unless in the lease the Landlord will provide these.
    • Usually Tenant must care for the lawn unless lease says the Landlord will provide lawn care.

Other repairs or improvements you or the Landlord agree to make can only be enforced if there is a separate agreement in writing. 

Landlord’s Right to Enter Your Home

Tenants must be reasonable about the landlord’s right to enter.

  • The Landlord must give you at least 24 hours notice to enter your apartment.
  • They may enter only during reasonable times, unless it is an emergency, like a fire, a flood or to make emergency repairs.
  • You must allow your Landlord to enter your apartment for usual inspections, repairs and for other reasonable purposes.

Landlord’s Rights

Damage to the apartment or house during the lease - If you or your guests cause damage beyond normal “wear and tear,” the Landlord may give you written notice that you have 10 days to make repairs or clean. If you do not have the repairs made within 10 days of the written notice, the Landlord may enter and repair the damage or clean it and give you an itemized bill for the repairs or cleaning the next time your rent is due.
Health & Safety - If you break a rule in your lease and it affects the health or safety of others, the Landlord may give you written notice that if you do not fix the problem within 10 days, you have 15 days to move out or the you may be sued for eviction. If you fix the problem within 10 days, the Landlord may not evict you at the end of 15 days.

Emergencies - If you cause a fire, flood or other emergency situation, the Landlord may evict you with 24 to 48 hours written notice.

Criminal Activity - A Landlord may immediately file an eviction case in court if you, anyone who lives with you, or your guest: conduct drug-related criminal activity at or near the place rented OR they commit a crime that threatens anyone’s health, safety or peaceful enjoyment of their home. The Landlord must only give you a 24 hour written notice that your lease is being terminated.

Property (Items you leave behind)

  • If you are evicted, the sheriff will post a notice on your door. 
    • You ONLY HAVE 48 hours to remove your property. 
  • If you leave property behind, you must pay the landlord what you owe before you can get your property back. The landlord can charge storage fees. 
  • If the Landlord believes the property has no value, they can throw it away. 
  • If the Landlord believes the property is worth something, they can mail notice to your last known address and give you two choices:
    • You can pick up your property before a certain date and pay what you owe; OR, 
    • If you do not pick up the property, the Landlord may sell the property and use the money to pay any rent you owe. You will be charged for the cost of the sale and any storage.
Last Review and Update: Dec 14, 2022
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