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15 Reminders for Chaldeans Leasing or Renting
By Rita Abro :: Monday, May 4, 2009 :: 55102 Views :: Article Rating :: Living & Lifestyle, Business & Finance

California, USA – “You have to know your rights.  Otherwise they may take advantage of you when you rent from them,” says Khaloud “Kelly” Heso, a property manager in Orange Grove Townhouse and Apartments in a small town outside of San Diego, California.  “I once worked with a company that taught us not to share renter rights with the tenants.  I could not work for a company that operated in that way, so I left and came to Orange Grove.” 

Chaldeans should know what their rights are when renting and you don't have to be expert in landlord-tenant law to protect yourself. Chaldeans are reminded to review their rights when renting or leasing and to always read the agreement before signing the dotted line.

Laws that protect both landlord and tenant have become so complex that understanding your rights can be difficult. Since landlord-tenant law varies by state, the key is knowing your rights -- preferably before you even sign your rental agreement. Understanding your state law and the terms of your lease are your best guarantees against future problems.

15 common renters' rights all Chaldeans should know:

Although Chaldean renters' rights vary by region, many are similar and predictable. Here's a sample of rights likely to be addressed in your state's landlord-tenant law:

1. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny housing to a tenant on the grounds of race, color, sex, religion, disability, family status, or national origin.

2. Residential rental units should be habitable and in compliance with housing and health codes—meaning they should be structurally safe, sanitary, weatherproofed, and include adequate water, electricity, and heat.

3. Many states limit the amount landlords can charge for security deposits. For Chaldeans in California the amount is 2 months' rent (unfurnished); 3 months' rent (furnished). Add extra one-half month's rent for waterbed.  In Michigan and Arizona the amount is one and one-half months' rent. In Nevada is 3 months and Illinois there is no statutory limit. 

4. A landlord should make necessary repairs and perform maintenance tasks in a timely fashion, or include a provision in the lease stating that tenants can order repairs and deduct the cost from rent.

5. A landlord must give prior notice (typically 24 hours) before entering your premises and can normally only do so to make repairs or in case of an emergency.

6. Illegal requirements in a rental agreement (section counter to state law) are usually not enforceable in court.

7. If a landlord has violated important terms related to health, safety, or necessary repairs, you might have a legal right to break your lease.

8. If you have to break a long-term lease, in most states landlords are required to search for a new tenant as soon as possible rather than charging the tenant for the full duration of the lease.

9. Damage or security deposits are not deductible for "normal wear and tear." Some states require that a landlord give an itemized report of any deductions.

10. Most states require landlords to return refundable portions of a security deposit within 14 to 30 days after the tenant has vacated the premises, even in the case of eviction.

11. Landlords usually can't legally seize a tenant's property for nonpayment of rent or any other reason, except in the case of abandonment as defined by law.

12. Landlords are legally prohibited from evicting tenants as retaliation for action a tenant takes related to a perceived landlord violation.

13. A landlord cannot legally change the locks, shut off (or cause to have shut off) your utilities, or evict you without notice; eviction requires a court order.

14. If a landlord makes life so miserable for you that it forces you to move, it may be considered "constructive eviction," which is usually grounds for legal action.

15. In many states, it's illegal for a lease to stipulate that the tenant is responsible for the landlord's attorney fees in case of a court dispute.

Chaldeans should protect themselves.  Before you move in, tour the premises with your landlord, and note and photograph any existing damage. When you move out, if your landlord withholds part of your damage deposit, ask for an itemized list of charges and the reason for the charges. If there's a discrepancy between this list and the one you made before moving in, let the landlord know immediately. Keep copies of all correspondence with your landlord, as well as dated records of phone and in-person conversations.