What is a Landlord?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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Broadly speaking, any individual who owns commercial or private property and agrees to rent or lease it to others can be considered a landlord. An apartment complex or rental house may have a "hands-on" type of owner, but leasers of retail stores, office complexes, factories and other commercial buildings also pay regular rent to a landlord. He or she may indeed be the kindly retiree who unclogs the sink, but he or she may also be a Donald Trump-level real estate investor who has little to no contact with individual renters or lessees.

A landlord bears the ultimate responsibility for any property he or she owns. This means great care must be taken to find responsible tenants who demonstrate financial stability and a respect for other people's property. In the US, federal laws prohibit a landlord from rejecting an applicant based on race, religion, country of origin and other protected factors, but he or she can still evaluate an applicant's credit history, previous rental experiences and general character. The owner is also entitled to ask for a security deposit as protection against future damage and a demonstration of good faith.


Because in the US, a landlord cannot legally enter rented property except under a few controlled conditions, a very specific lease agreement is usually drawn up before the tenant moves in. This rental agreement generally spells out the amount of the rent to be paid, the due date for payment, expected conduct of the tenant and the responsibilities of the landlord. In most situations, the landlord is responsible for repairs to the structure and any appliance or furnishing permanently attached to it. Although many are experienced handymen, they are allowed to hire outside contractors to handle their tenant's repairs and complaints.

A landlord may also agree to assume certain utility expenses, such as water or garbage pickup. This arrangement should be spelled out specifically in the lease. Laws vary widely from state to state and country to country, so renters should learn what rights a landlord does and doesn't have in terms of access to the property. In many places, this person must give 24 hours notice before entering a rented space. This allows tenants enough time to correct any potential lease violations or privacy issues before he or she arrives. If an emergency arises, however, a landlord may enter the premises unannounced to make the appropriate repairs. He or she can also enter an apartment to show it to potential tenants if the present renter has elected to move out.

Being a hands-on landlord can become an unexpected full-time job. Many property owners hand over these responsibilities to professional management companies; a local landscaping service can provide scheduled maintenance of the property and repairs can be handled by local contractors.


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Discuss this Article

Post 4

Legally speaking? Since when did a "landlord" necessarily make him or her the owner? An owner of a property may or may not hire a landlord to carry out the daily/monthly duties.

If problems arise, find the building's owner. Don't assume they are one and the same. An owner won't like the hassle the landlord is creating for him when building problems arise and aren't taken care of properly. Find the owner of the property and voice concerns with them if the "landlord" is not satisfactory.

Post 3

@ Amphibious54- If your landlord is threatening eviction or court action, you should place rent in an escrow account until the stove is fixed or the case is resolved. A dead stove is considered an emergency repair in most states, and should be dealt with within 72 hours to make the home livable. You should also save all of your receipts from takeout, and make a record of all the phone calls you have made. Take note of all conversations with your landlord or the lawyer. If you record them, be sure that you let them know they are being recorded on tape. I would also make sure to follow all requests with a written one so that there is a physical record of what was stated. Hopefully you nail that horrible landlord.

Post 2

@ Amphibious54- It sounds like you are the victim of a slumlord. There are consumer protections out there that look out for a tenants rights. You should call your states attorney’s office to file a complaint. You should also contact a lawyer referral service, there are often non-profit organizations that will give you legal advice. It sounds like you have a landlord who likes to prey on college kids who don't have the time to go through a lengthy court process. Finally, read your landlord's lease very carefully and highlight any areas where he might have breached contract. Bring this with you when you consult a lawyer.

Post 1

How do I deal with landlord problems? I am a good tenant, paying my rent six months in advance, but my landlord does not do what he is supposed to. My stove is broken so I have been buying takeout and eating microwave food for three weeks. I have called him four ties, and he did not return my call until I told him I was terminating my lease and moving out. He said he would sue me for the remainder of the lease if I moved out, and that he would fix the stove in a couple of weeks. I told him I would withhold rent until it was fixed, and I received a call from his lawyer.


talking to numerous previous tenants, I learned that he would often sue people for breaking a lease, and lost tenants regularly. I live in a college town, so I did not know anything about this shady landlord until I moved in. I was told that many of his cases were thrown out of court, but many were also successful. From my understanding, he has made a lot of money by suing tenants, than immediately re-renting the unit, making double the rent for each garbage unit.

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