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Landlord & Tenant Rights After a Breach of Lease

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

If either a landlord or tenant breaks a portion of the lease agreement they still retain specific rights. In this lesson we will explore a few examples of breaches of lease and how each person's rights are involved in those situations.

Breaches of Lease

While ideally every landlord-tenant relationship goes smoothly, the reality is that sometimes either or both parties create a problem. A breach of lease is when the landlord or tenant breaks one of the provisions set out in the lease document. However, even when one person breaches the lease the other party still has a number of rights.

Although rights don't guarantee anyone's actions, they are recognized in court. The court will most likely side with the party whose rights are being violated. Let's take a look at the rights of the tenant when a landlord breaches the lease and landlord rights when the tenant breaches the lease.

Tenant Rights

Terry the tenant rents a house from Larry the landlord. If Larry were to break a provision of the lease, such as not keeping the furnace in working condition or entering the property without notice, Terry should be aware of his tenant rights. Tenants enjoy a number of rights. They have the right to legal enjoyment of the premises. This means that the tenant can enjoy peace, quiet, and be free of unnecessary disturbances in exchange for rent payments.

The right to a safe premises means that the landlord must comply with local codes and ordinances that affect safety. This includes maintaining equipment that could pose a safety hazard like heating, plumbing, or a leaky roof. Terry has the right to insist on Larry immediately making these repairs at Larry's expense.

The right to privacy is articulated in the lease with reasonable circumstances on which the landlord may enter the home. Usually at least 24 hours notice is required, or the situation must be an actual emergency. It is illegal for a landlord to lock a tenant out or remove their personal property from the building.

Tenant Rights for Extreme Cases

In extreme cases, tenants have two other rights that may be useful in fixing a lease dispute. Tenants maintain the right to binding terms. The lease document serves as a written agreement of the rent situation and presents rules for each party. This document can be used in court to prove the tenant's point if the landlord has been negligent in his duties.

In some localities, Terry may have the right to withhold rent. Terry should check with local housing authorities to be sure of the rules, but he may be able to not pay a certain amount of the rent if a problem isn't fixed or is delayed. For example, if Terry has to pay for repairs in an emergency he could subtract that amount from the next month's rent payment.

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