As a tenant, you may be intimidated when you have a disagreement with your landlord or you have a problem with terms in your rental agreement, and therefore you may hesitate to assert your tenants’ rights. But, federal law and state laws provide many protections for tenants. Even if you are behind in your rent and the landlord wants you out of your rental property, you may have a valid defense against eviction. There are sometimes other options besides moving out or paying what the property owner says you owe.
Renters have the legal right to:
Personal property is generally considered “abandoned” when a tenant leaves his/her belongings in the unit after the lease ends. Unless there is some prior agreement made between the tenant and the landlord, the landlord can deal with it as they choose.
In most cases, when property is left in the unit and abandoned, the landlord may remove the items, and either store them or dispose of them. The landlord should provide reasonable notice to the tenant that the property has been left in the unit. That way, the tenant has a chance to reclaim the property. State laws may vary regarding how long a landlord may be required to store property before throwing it away.
It depends. The security deposit is meant to cover costs to the landlord when a tenant vacates the property. After a tenant moves out, the landlord may be able to use security deposit funds to:
The landlord has a “reasonable time,” usually between 21 and 30 days, to send the tenant whatever remains of the security deposit after paying for the items above. If the landlord fails to return the security deposit on unreasonable grounds, you may want to pursue this amount with a legal action in small claims court.
The landlord must:
Many states set limits on how many months in rent or security deposit the landlord can demand. The landlord may, however, require a deposit up to the mandated limits.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified tenant rights lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local tenant rights attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.