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Landlord-Tenant Basics

A lease is the typical agreement outlining the arrangement to occupy property between the tenant, who will become the occupant, and the landlord, who is the legal owner of the property. Leases between landlords and tenants can be oral or written if the lease is for a period of less than three years, although written is always preferable. Lease agreements must be in writing for terms greater than three years. A tenant should make a careful review of the property prior to signing a lease. For example, a tenant should check to see if all appliances are in working order, if there are any plumbing issues, if the electric is properly wired and all light fixtures and outlets are in working order, whether the walls or ceilings have any cracks, holes or other damage, if the floors, railing and bathroom fixtures are in good repair, whether there are any rodent or insect problems, and whether the windows and doors are functional and secure. A tenant should be sure to note any existing damages to the landlord prior to signing a lease as the tenant is obligated to leave the property in the same condition at the termination of the lease. 

The term of a lease will automatically terminate as stated in the lease but can terminate earlier in certain circumstances. A landlord can evict a tenant if they are behind on rent or break any other clause of the lease. A landlord must provide a notice to quit to be personally delivered to the tenant, posted to their residence, or left in a common area. The notice must allow a time frame to rectify the breach prior to eviction. If the tenant does not come into compliance, the landlord must then follow the steps to file a complaint in district court for eviction. 

Click here to read more on Landlord Tenant law.

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