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Landlord and tenant laws vary from place to place. The purpose of housing laws is to make sure that both parties in these rental disputes have a clear guideline for how to proceed. The various types of these laws cover most of the common issues that arise between landlords and tenants, including rental deposit, normal and customary damages, entering the unit, and rental prices.
Some jurisdictions impose a limit on rental deposits, such as requiring no more than the amount of one month’s rent, for example. Landlord and tenant laws also cover how a landlord is to handle the deposit once received. In some places, landlords must keep the deposit in a separate bank account and might need to repay the amount — plus interest — to the tenant after occupancy. Other jurisdictions are less stringent about how the landlord handles the money after it has been received.
In some places, landlord and tenant laws govern what fees a landlord can levy against a tenant for repairs and renovations. For example, repainting walls might be an item for which the landlord cannot charge the tenant, because repainting walls will be common in rental units. Landlord and tenant laws also might control how landlords charge for common replacements, such as carpeting. A common way to calculate a tenant’s responsibility is to divide the price of new carpeting by the number of years the carpeting had been installed. The tenant then is responsible for only a share of the price and not the entirety of it.
Another major issue in housing law is when and how the landlord should enter the premises. Certain laws will spell out how much notice landlords must give to their tenants that they will enter the premises. In many cases, the landlord is allowed enter without the tenant's approval only under certain circumstances. Though the landlord owns the property, the tenant has rights to privacy, and the law balances those rights against each other. Tenants, by the same token, must grant access to their rental units to landlords under certain circumstances.
Most cities allow the market to determine the price that landlords can charge for rent. If the rent is too high, then no one will rent the unit. Some cities and counties have rent control boards that determine the fair market value, however. These boards, which typically are in large cities, do not allow the rent to rise above a certain price. Renters might be grandfathered into certain price ranges, or the board can cap rates based on inflation and other factors.
It is fascinating how different landlord tenant laws are from one state to the other. In a good number of states, successful landlord lobbies have successfully gotten legislation passed that favors their clients.
That really highlights the problem with allowing lobbyists to run loose. Landlords can afford representation in state legislators, while tenants generally can't. When a bunch of groups are running around buying legislation for people who can afford it, you really can't expect just and equitable laws, can you?
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