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Rights and Duties of Tenants

Your landlord may enter the property after advance notice in order to make inspections, make necessary repairs, supply necessary services, or to show the property to prospective buyers or work people, and you cannot unreasonably deny your permission to the landlord to do so. However, the landlord cannot abuse this right of access, use it to harass you, or enter at unreasonable times.

You also have the right to a 'habitable' home. This means that the property must be safe and sanitary. The space must be free of pests when you move in, and there must be proper wiring, plumbing, heating and weatherproofing. These requirements must be maintained throughout your rental period. If repairs are needed for safety or sanitation, your landlord must make such repairs without charging you for them. If you have caused the problem, the landlord still is obliged to make the repair if you don't do it, but you are responsible for the reasonable cost. You are responsible, however, for the cost of replacing batteries in smoke alarms in the rental, and for checking the alarms ever six months to ensure that they work.

If a landlord refuses to provide certain kinds of services, and if you did not cause the problem, you may correct the problem if you first give written notice to the landlord. In the written notice, be sure you define the problem and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. You can then deduct the cost of the repairs from your rent, after submitting the receipts to the landlord, in some circumstances. The law limits the time you have to wait, the kinds of problems you are allowed to fix, and the amount of money you are allowed to spend. For more information about how to use this remedy properly, listen to Getting Repairs Made.

You have specific responsibilities as a tenant. One is to use the property only as your home. Another is to pay your rent. You must also keep the property reasonably clean. At the end of the rental arrangement, you must return the property to your landlord in the same condition in which you received it except for reasonable wear and tear.

Rights and Duties of Landlords
As a landlord, you have the right to receive rent for the use of your property.
It is your duty as a landlord to respect your tenant's rights. These rights include the right of peaceful possession. As a landlord, you are responsible for observing federal, state and local laws when it comes to the use and condition of the property.

As a landlord, you have the duty of accounting for or refunding to the tenant any refundable deposits upon termination of the tenancy. In order to keep all or part of the deposit, you must give the tenant, within 31 days after termination, a written accounting that states specifically why you kept a portion or all of the deposit. If you have charged the tenant a fee as well as a deposit, you must use all of the money from the fee for cleaning and repairs needed because the tenant did not maintain the property before you can use any of the deposit for that purpose. If you do not comply with this requirement, the tenant can sue you for twice the amount of the deposit.

The basic rights and duties covered in this information apply whether the contract you have with the tenant is written or oral. A written agreement is best because it serves as a record of terms and conditions you may wish to include, such as whether or not pets are allowed and special requirements for serving notices. If you wish to arrange terms for more than one year, the agreement must be in writing to be enforceable.

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