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Landlord Tenant Attorney

What Is Landlord-Tenant Law? 

If you rent an apartment, home or condo unit (or any other legal living space), landlord-tenant law ensures you have clean, safe and fair housing opportunities. Sometimes you can easily resolve some rental issues through individual research and knowledge of your legal rights. Other issues can prove more challenging, even threatening your housing situation or rental ability altogether. In these cases, it helps to have a landlord-tenant attorney (a.k.a. lease lawyer or sublease lawyer) assist with your situation.

What Are Examples of Landlord-Tenant Law?

As a potential renter, landlords cannot discriminate or reject your application based on race, age, sex, color, religion, national origin, mental or physical disability, or family status. This right protects all tenants under the federal Fair Housing Act. Depending on your state or local laws, you may have further categories protected from discrimination.

Tenants are also entitled to a habitable residence. This means a unit must be a safe and sustainable living space with working water, heat and utilities. Your landlord must grant you privacy and implement home repairs when necessary.

Your landlord also cannot enter your residence without notice. Landlords must ask for equal security deposits from renters, and cannot legally impose a higher deposit without reason. The law also requires landlords to provide notice of a claim of eviction and a reasonable time frame to pay any unpaid rent or fix damage done to a unit (leading to a breach of lease).

Definition of Lease and Sublease

Leases and sublease contracts are legal documents that outline the terms and conditions between a tenant and landlord, or a tenant and master tenant. Lease contracts establish the rental and housing terms between a landlord and her or his tenant.

Sublease contracts, on the other hand, outline the rental terms and conditions between a tenant (also commonly referred to as a “master tenant,” in such cases) and her or his sub-tenant (an individual choosing to rent the unit). It is important to note that subtenants enter a contract with the “master tenant,” not the landlord. This means master tenants must still follow the terms of their lease. Master tenants also remain liable for the same amount of rent payments (regardless of whether their subtenant pays on time). They’re also responsible for any damages the subtenant causes.

What Are the Consequences of Breaking a Lease?

Without just cause, breaking a lease breaches the contract between you and your landlord, which can lead to hefty penalties. Common reasons for opting out of a residential lease include moving for a job, moving out because of a marriage or divorce, or finding a new housing situation. These, however, are not valid legal reasons for breaking a lease and avoiding any resulting penalties.

However, plenty of states require landlords to mitigate these consequences by making reasonable efforts to find a new tenant. This means that the more notice you provide your landlord on your intent to move out, the greater your chances of reducing or even avoiding a penalty. Some tenants also help their landlord find a replacement tenant to compensate. If you have a fixed lease and cannot find a replacement tenant in time, the landlord may require you to pay your remaining months of rent.

Conditions That Protect You From Penalties When Breaking a Lease

There may be a few situations where a tenant is exempt from penalties when breaking her or his lease. If your landlord fails to comply with his or her obligations, for example, you may have just cause for breaking a lease.

Other circumstances can include:

  • Serious illness or injury: In which you must move to an assisted living facility. 
  • Called for active duty in the military. Under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, tenants who have signed a lease before being called up can break their lease without penalty. The same exemption applies to those who must relocate under military orders. 
  • Severe natural damage to the unit (such as floods, fires, earthquakes, etc.): In which a natural disaster creates unreasonable living conditions. Penalty exemption can also apply if another party inflicted the damage as a criminal act.

Of course, refer to your current state laws and lease agreement terms to ensure your eligibility for a penalty exemption.

When to Hire A Landlord Tenant Attorney

Receiving legal help from a skilled, experienced tenant lawyer can help alleviate further issues in times of rental conflict and mental stress. Our dedicated team of legal professionals fights for your rights as a tenant in extreme situations that include:

  • Unjust evictionin which a landlord serves you with a termination notice that you wish to contest. Eviction lawyers can help in developing effective strategies for battling illegal evictions. This can include arguing that the act was retaliatory (and therefore illegal) if enough evidence supports the claim. 
  • Discriminationin which you have the option to hire a lease lawyer and sue the landlord in court. You can also file a fair housing complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If HUD reviews your complaint and confirms that your landlord was discriminative, you may even have a HUD lawyer represent you at no cost. 
  • Your landlord not living up to her or his obligations, such as making necessary repairs to fix severe housing damage. Some landlords may also offer false promises to bribe hesitant applicants to rent from them. You can also hire a lawyer to speak with your landlord, should he or she fail to honor these promises. 

Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer

If you find yourself stuck in a tricky rental situation and find your safety, finances and personal possessions under threat, our experienced attorneys can help fight for your rights and any necessary cases in court.

Consult with our team of dedicated legal advocates today. Prevent yourself (or your loved ones) from being the subject of discrimination, negligence or unjust eviction.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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