Landlord / Tenant Disputes
Both Landlords and Tenants Need to Know their Rights.
In our area, landlord tenant disputes are one of the most common sources of litigation and strife for clients. Lease agreements are, after all, contracts at their very root, so landlords and tenants are free to bargain about many of their terms. In many instances, dispute arises over execution or construction of the terms over the life of the lease.
I’m a Landlord – When do I need to talk to an Attorney?
The best time to talk to an attorney about your lease arrangement is before the lease has been executed. To the extent possible, it is a worthwhile exercise to have an attorney review your drafted lease or draft a lease specific to your property/situation.
In many cases, our landlord clients come to us after they have encountered an issue with their tenant. Whether they are trying to evict the tenant altogether, collect money from the tenant, or just trying to get a tenant to comply with the terms of a lease, counsel from an attorney can be essential in making determinations about your rights and obligations as a landlord.
I’m a Tenant – When do I need to talk to an Attorney?
North Carolina law differentiates residential tenants from commercial tenants and, for the most part, provides comprehensive protections to residential tenants. Obviously, if you are a residential tenant facing eviction, it can be very worthwhile to visit with an attorney. The summary ejectment process in North Carolina can be complicated – if your landlord has not complied with procedural and legal requirements in the course of your eviction, having an attorney by your side can be critical in protecting your due process and contractual rights in court.
In a less obvious context, there are many situations where a tenant’s rights are being violated and they have some legal recourse to protect themselves. Carefully review the information below about the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. If it seems like you have some right being violated, please contact an attorney for help.
Rights and Obligations of a Landlord
Obligations as a Landlord
- – Comply with current applicable building and housing codes;
- – Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the rental premises in a fit and habitable condition;
- – Keep all common areas in safe condition;
- – Maintain in good, safe working order, and promptly repair all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances which you have supplied or are required by your agreement or any law to supply after you have been notified by the tenant of any defects in writing;
- – Provide and install battery-operated or electric smoke detectors;
- – Provide and install battery-operated or electric operable carbon monoxide detectors; and
- – Perform any other duties required by your rental agreement.
Rights as a Landlord
As a landlord, you have substantial rights prior to engaging in the lease. You have the right to rent your property for whatever amount you choose. You may rent to whomever you wish and you may set any terms in your rental agreement you wish, provided that they are not contrary to state and federal laws (including those laws prohibiting discrimination, etc.).
After renting, your rights become limited; however, you may evict an tenant who violates any provision of your rental agreement which you and tenant have agreed is a ground for eviction. Failure to pay rent is always a ground for eviction. You may reserve the right to enter, inspect, and make repairs on or show the rental property at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner. You have the right to have your property returned to yo uin the same condition as it was when the tenant took possession (with the exception of ordinary wear and tear and damage done by natural forces). You have other important rights pertaining to security deposits (you can learn more about those rights here).
Rights and Obligations of a Tenant
Obligations as a Tenant
- – Pay your rent as agreed and do other things required by your lease;
- – Keep the leasehold clean and safe, dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and safe way, and use the toilet, sinks, and baths properly;
- – Prevent damage to the leasehold (other than ordinary wear and tear);
- – Prevent guests from damaging the leasehold;
- – Comply with any and all obligations imposed by tenants by current applicable building and housing codes;
- – Replace the batteries as needed in a battery-operated smoke detector, notify the landlord if the smoke detector needs to be repaired or replaced, and prevent anyone from rendering the smoke detector inoperable; and
- – Vacate the premises at the end of the term, leaving them in good clean condition. If you hold over at the end of the term and the landlord continues to accept rental payments from you, unless your rental agreement otherwise provides, the law may deem you to have entered a new term of lease.
Rights of a Tenant
For as long as you fulfill your legal duties and comply with the requirements of your rental agreement, you have the right to exclusive possession and control of property you lease during the term of your agreement (subject to provisions in the lease for inspection of the landlord). If the landlord is not living up to his side of the agreement, you have the right to complain to him, complain to appropriate governmental agencies, exercise your rights under law or the rental agreement which you have signed, and/or join with other tenants to secure your rights.
Landlord Tenant Relations are Complicated
Whether you are dealing with a commercial lease or a residential one, and whether you are a landlord or tenant, navigating the waters of lease relations can be frustrating. Coltrane Grubbs & Orenstein has experience dealing with landlord-tenant litigation, and would be glad to help you deal with your dispute. Please call (336-996-4166) and set up your consult today.