What Should I Do If My Landlord Is Not Great?

Renting a house from a landlord should be a pain-free experience, but as far too many renters learn every single year, landlords often wield this power unfairly and put tenants in a difficult situation. There is a difference between a landlord who isn't great and a landlord who is violating the law, and understanding your rights in all of these circumstances can help you determine whether or not you intend to stay in the lease or explore other options of either breaking the lease or moving on.

Knowing your basic rights as a legal tenant will help you to make decisions in line with your best interests.

No one wants to rent from a bad landlord, but what options do you have if you’re already stuck with one right now? You might simply have an annoying situation that you wish would stop, but there is an entirely different scenario that applies when a landlord is violating your rights. Some landlords use their advantageous position to try to bully you into submission or convince you that it’s not worth taking them on in court or elsewhere. However, you should always be familiar with your rights so that you can exercise them in the event of an incident with the landlord.

Your landlord tenant relationship should mostly be governed by the lease that you have signed. Not all leases are standard, and you need to read between the lines to find out whether there are any additional terms that prove problematic for you. If you agree to the lease with terms that are legal but not favorable, you can expect that the landlord is in their rights to act in that way in the future. 

What Does It Mean to Have a Landlord Who Is Not Great?

A landlord must give you a reasonable right to privacy in most states and must also give you notice to enter the home unless your lease explicitly states otherwise. The right to a habitable home is a basic for anyone who is renting a property and if you are curious about what to do if my landlord is not great, it may be because you feel like the underlying home and location is unsafe or uninhabitable. A habitable home is an apartment or a house that is reasonably fit to be lived in. This means that there should be no unsafe conditions on the property, such as holes in the hole, a lack of running water, no heat or bad wiring. 

Substantial infestations of pests or other problems can also hinder a home's habitability. Many state laws prohibit landlords from proactively adding language into their leases to waive this right. Another common right of tenants has to do with security deposits and their limits and deadlines. This will be specified under state law so you need to be sure that whenever you're renting a new property you are clear about how much security deposit can be collected, how and where it will be stored if anywhere, and the rights for you to get it returned to you. 

If your landlord directly violates the habitability or the security deposit laws, you could have grounds to break the lease and move on from this situation.

If your landlord is not great in more than one way, meaning that they are violating your rights on a few fronts, you need to share these concerns with an experienced landlord tenant lawyer as soon as possible. 

What About Right to Privacy?

One of the biggest concerns when you're searching for what to do when my landlord is not great, has to do with when a landlord is violating your privacy. Even though the landlord owns the building that you're currently in, does not allow them to access the property anytime they choose. This is because as a tenant you have a reasonable level of privacy expectation. There are some situations when a landlord might need to access the property to check something, to do a repair, or for another reason but they generally must give you notice beforehand. However, remember that when it comes to a right to privacy, your landlord does have a reasonable reason to do background checks and look at your credit history and crime records before renting to you. If you believe your landlord is violating your privacy rights or other basic landlord obligations, you can use this information to break the lease but only after you have spoken to an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. 

Landlord tenant laws were created to serve as the roadmap for obligations of both tenants and landlords. The landlords' duties are typically broken down into distinct parts known as liability, delivering possession of the unit, disclosure of owner, maintenance, and security deposit. Make sure you educate yourself about each of these situations.

What Should I Do if I Am Having a Problem With My Landlord?

If you believe that your landlord is violating the rules or simply violating your privacy, it is always helpful to have good evidence of these circumstances. Otherwise, it can be difficult to prove that the landlord did do what you said. For example, maybe you have journal entries or videos of the landlord entering the property at times when they shouldn’t have. Or it might be the case that you have asked for a dangerous condition to be repaired six times but it still hasn’t been done. In all of those circumstances, you want a lawyer who can guide you through what to do next. 

Your first line of defense in a landlord tenant dispute is to consult directly with the landlord. You might be able to resolve your ongoing disputes by having conversations with them and expressing your primary concerns. In these situations, you have probably done your due diligence to provide them with evidence of the unsafe or other concerning conditions and are waiting for their appropriate response. 

Just because a landlord has legal obligations, however, doesn't always mean that they will respect these or that they will agree with you to abide by these rules. 

This means you might need to educate them about state laws which can also trigger additional conflict with your landlords. If your landlord is not great and it is causing you additional stress and frustration to live on the property, you need to review the terms of your lease. Your lease will dictate whether and under what circumstances you are eligible to break the terms of the lease. If you are not eligible to break the terms of the lease, you may face additional consequences, such as having to continue to pay the rent or staying in the property until the end of the lease term. Landlord tenants disputes can be complex and costly so you may be able to arrive at a more reasonable arrangement by attempting to settle with the landlord so that you both can move on with your lives. It can be devastating to learn that a landlord does not respect your privacy or is not willing to comply with the safe habitability rule. However, in all of these circumstances you need to be prepared for the possibility that the law could be in a grey area on these matters or that the courts side with the landlord. In all of these circumstances, you'll want to get the advice of an attorney sooner rather than later to protect yourself.       

In some cases, your landlord might not respond seriously to the legal allegations you have made until you have taken the proactive step of hiring an attorney. If you've already attempted to resolve things on your own and been unsuccessful in doing so, you should not have to live with the fear and frustration of a bad landlord. If you can show that the landlord has violated the law, involving an attorney might be the best way to protect you and your rights to give you some options to move forward. 

If you have a case against the wrongdoing of your landlord and are ready to take your next steps, you can contact Morgan & Morgan to receive a free case evaluation to get started.

What Are Basic Tenants Rights?

There are two primary parties to a lease; the tenant and the landlord. Each of these individuals has specific responsibilities that must be followed. Tenants have rights that they should educate themselves about before signing any lease and it's also beneficial to read through a lease in full. The landlord has a responsibility to maintain a functional and safe facility and adhere to the terms of the lease agreement but also has the right to receive the full rent by the due date. Tenants have rights that extend over local, state, and federal laws, such as the right to a habitable home, the right not to be discriminated against, and the right not to be charged more for a security deposit than is allowed by-laws within the state. However, although tenants’ rights are non-negotiable, landlords can often skirt around these legal issues.