Landlord Tenant Laws

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Most states enact their own specific Landlord/Tenant laws. However, the general subject matter includes rental agreements and a requirement to act in good faith from both the tenant and the landlord. Landlords are also required to comply with the building and housing codes as well as supply basic needs such as running water, hot water, and heat. These laws also discuss timing requirements. For example, in most states, a landlord must provide his tenant with 30 days notice of a rent increase.

Landlord/Tenant laws also cover eviction processes. Again, depending on your state, the time requirements for eviction vary. In Rhode Island, if a tenant’s rent is over 15 days late, then a landlord can begin the eviction procedure. This includes sending a written notice, and providing the tenant with 5 days to pay the past due rent. If this rent is not paid, then the rental agreement terminates. If the rent is not paid within the 5 day period, the landlord can then begin the court process of eviction. In most states, a court eviction is the only valid means of eviction. For example, the process of throwing out a tenant’s belongings onto the sidewalk may not be a legal course of action. In states where a court eviction is the legal process, the landlord must serve the tenant with a summons and complaint a few days before the actual court date. During an eviction proceeding, the tenant can also assert their side of the story. For example, perhaps the tenant did not pay rent because the landlord failed to comply with the rental agreement by not providing heating for several months. Any concerns related to the Landlord/Tenant law and corresponding rental agreement can generally be addressed during an eviction hearing.

Landlord/Tenant cases tend to operate in the judicial system quicker than traditional civil cases. While in many civil cases it can take months or even years before an actual court hearing, in Landlord/Tenant cases, the court hearing occurs in a matter of days. However, despite these differences, similar to civil cases, Landlord/Tenant court cases are typically found in courts of general jurisdiction, such as Superior Courts or District Courts. Some states, however, may have these cases in County Courts. The exact name of the court will depend upon the court system in a particular state. If you are involved in an issue related to the Landlord/Tenant laws of your state, you may find it helpful to review a few cases. You may also find it helpful to visit the Court Records Reference and Directory to find out if your state has an online system to view these records, or get court contact information.�

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