Evicting a tenant can be a long and costly process amounting to thousands of dollars. Protect your property by understanding the responsibilities of a tenant and the rights of a landlord. While laws may vary from state to state, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself, such as obtaining credit reports, driving records, and criminal background checks on prospective tenants. When these precautions aren’t enough, understand rights and responsibilities as they apply to your rental.

Tenants Responsibilities

Tenants sign a lease for a reason. The tenant is obligation to fulfill the terms of this lease as written. Additional responsibilities may vary by location, but generally include the following:

  • Tenants must either report repair needs or make minor repairs as requested. Items should not be left unattended to cause continued damage.
  • Pay rent and utilities as agreed upon.
  • Dispose of garbage properly, in designated areas.
  • Use electrical, plumbing, and heating in a proper manner.
  • Keep premises free of drug activity and crime.
  • Pay for damage caused by the tenant including fumigation and repairs above and beyond those covered in security deposits.
  • Follow city, state, and county regulations as listed.
  • Avoid causing a disturbance or nuisance to other tenants.

Landlord Rights

Unfortunately, not all tenants take their responsibilities seriously, which brings into question landlord rights. What exactly can a landlord do with an uncooperative tenant? Again, specific laws vary by state, county, and city, but these general guidelines will apply in most cases.

A landlord’s primary responsibility is to keep a unit safe and in good repair. Landlords are required to repair damage from age, weather, and wear and tear. Plumbing, electrical, and heating must be kept in working order. Damage to structural areas such as floors, roofs, and chimneys must be maintained in weather tight condition. Rodent and pest problems must be fixed unless specifically caused by the tenant. Locks must be secure with copies of the keys provided to registered tenants. Noise and safety complaints need to be addressed.

In addition to these responsibilities, landlords must provide a receipt upon request for all received payments. Proper notice must be given for missing payments and entry into a tenants premises. Notice must also be given for evictions for any reason.

Common Reasons for Eviction

While eviction is usually a last resort, there are some reasons that are considered standard cause for eviction. It is illegal to evict a tenant for personal reasons, but the following items have been proven as reasonable cause.

  • Illegal property use, include crimes, gang activity, and running a commercial operation out of a residentially zoned area.
  • Health or safety violations, which can be caused by the building needing repair or then tenants actions.
  • Removing the apartment from the rental market, either to sell, renovate, or any similar reason which would require long term vacancy.
  • Choice of the owner to move into the rental unit themselves.
  • Lease violations including breach of pet policy, number of tenants, or refusal to pay any portion of rent.

A lease is designed to outline the expectations of any renter in your property. Landlords must also follow rules, but are still left with reasonable expectations of behavior. If an eviction is required, there are only a few costly methods available. Prevent bad behavior and costly evictions by first fully checking prospective tenants. Obtain credit reports through a credit reporting service. Include background checks and driving records in any interviewing process. Remember finally to learn the specifics of your local neighborhood landlord/tenant laws, and happy renting.