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Questions on Rental Property Laws

A property for which an owner receives payment from tenants for being allowed to use or occupy the premises is called a rental property. Before a tenant moves into a rental property, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property lives up to the minimum standards established by city and county housing authorities. Certain cities also insist on smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, bolts on exterior doors, and other safety measures being put in place at rental properties by landlords.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on rental property related issues.

I left my security deposit to pay for the last month’s rent in my rental property. Can the landlord now ask me for the rent and if it isn’t paid, is there a maximum amount he can ask for late fees?

When a tenancy gets terminated, the monthly fees also come to an end. You should not have more than a month of late charges to pay as this was your last month of tenancy.

In South Carolina, does a landlord need to provide a refrigerator in a rental property?

The landlord would need to provide a refrigerator under the landlord’s warranty of habitability unless the lease specifically excludes this.

In Colorado, if there is a landfill less than two miles away from a rental home, do the owners of a rental property need to disclose this?

In Colorado, there aren’t any statutes that oblige a landlord to do this sort of "due diligence" for a tenant. If the landfill can easily been seen by a tenant if he/she does due diligence of the surrounding area, the law would not require the landlord to disclose this. However, if there happened to be a latent issue that would affect the rental property and that the tenant would have a tough time discovering, it would become the landlord’s duty to disclose it.

I have a single house which is a rental property in Ohio. I found out that the house had mold problems only after I received a letter from the health department. Since my tenants did nothing to stop the problem when they first discovered it, I will now have to pay a lot of money to clean it up. The tenants are on a month-to-month lease. Do I have any rights in the matter as a landlord?

Under Ohio laws, your tenants owe you no duty to repair and therefore you won’t be able to take any action against them. Simply put, you can’t evict them just because they informed the health department about the mold. What you could do is to choose not to renew their month-to-month lease and request them to leave the premises once their next full month is completed. All you can do now is to carry out the repairs and make the property fully habitable. Although a tenant’s duties would include informing the landlord about any property issues, the law does not punish a tenant for not doing so.

My tenant ran up a bill of several thousands of dollars in damages after abandoning my rental property. She has admitted to this both verbally and in writing and is also late in paying the rent. Can I garnish her wages by going to small claims and getting a judgment?

Usually you can. Once you get a judgment, you can garnish wages, accounts and attach property the tenant owns.

A landlord has many responsibilities regarding his rental property and could get into serious trouble if they failed to address a known property-related problem on time. Even if a landlord is unable to address a problem right away, it is important for him/her to inform the tenant about his/her intentions to solve the problem and the circumstances that are causing the delay in fixing it. Although state laws vary on rental properties, in many states, if a tenant is upset with a landlord’s inability to fix a problem, the tenant can treat the failure to respond as a breach of contract and decide to leave the property in the middle of the lease.
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