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The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Law

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Law

Intended to make residential landlord and tenant laws more fair and relevant, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) is impartial and does not favor landlords or tenants.

As a landlord, it is important to know the details of your rental property laws, with the URLTA being no exception. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant law.

Article at a Glance:

Being a good and effective landlord means staying up to date with the laws and regulations in your area. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) is a federal law protecting the rights of both landlords and tenants in the United States. Five aspects not all landlords are aware of include stipulations regarding:

  • Permission to enter
  • Keeping a security deposit
  • Left behind property
  • Holdovers
  • Accepting money during an eviction

Even further, specific guidelines are dictating the requirements of landlords and tenants alike.

What Is the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act?

The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, also commonly referred to as URLTA, was created in 1972. The URLTA was designed to govern residential landlords and tenants regarding their rental agreements across the United States.

The URLTA consists of six articles, each discussing issues about the landlord and tenant relationship as set forth by rental agreements. The six articles of the URLTA are:

  • Article 1: General Provisions and Definitions
  • Article 2: Landlord Obligations
  • Article 3: Tenant Obligations
  • Article 4: Remedies
  • Article 5: Retaliatory Conduct
  • Article 6: Effective Date and Repealer

5 Things You Didn’t Know

Of the six articles that make up the URLTA, five points are commonly overlooked but worth paying close attention to.

1. Permission to Enter

If a tenant submits a work order, they are permitting you to enter the home. You don’t have to let them know, and you can use your keys just to walk right in and fix it. To be a good landlord, you should always attempt to do your best to coordinate these efforts with your tenant as much as they would prefer coordination. There are many times when it doesn’t work out. Thankfully, you are still able to complete the work order.

2. Keeping a Security Deposit

If a tenant doesn’t cash their security deposit refund for 180 days, you get to keep it. While it is doubtful that your tenant will not cash your refund, it does happen. In those circumstances, it’s nice to know that the money is yours to keep.

3. Left Behind Property

If a tenant leaves property in your house for 14 days after the termination of the lease, you have no duty to store it and can throw it away. Many landlords worry about this because they don’t want to pay a tenant for a bunch of random crap. Bottom line, if it goes 14 days, put anything you don’t want out and let the trashman have it.

4. Holdovers

If a tenant stays in a home without your permission when the lease is over, it is considered a “holdover.” In these cases, you are entitled to actual damages or up to three times the monthly rent, whichever is greater. This is another rare circumstance, but it’s good to know how to handle it if it comes up. Make sure you understand exactly what you are due if this happens to you, even if it is just one day you are entitled to damages.

5. Accepting Money During an Eviction

If you accept money from a tenant who is being evicted, it nullifies everything you’ve done, and you must start the entire process all over. This can be a frustrating piece of the URLTA for landlords. Even though you are technically owed the money, it’s not in your best interest to collect it during an eviction. That’s not what the law says, so you must comply. Don’t make a mistake and collect any funds during this process. Judges don’t look fondly on this one.

URLTA Landlord Requirements

Aside from these less commonly known stipulations of the URLTA, there are basic requirements that landlords must follow. To remain lawful, landlords must:

  • Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times
  • Provide and adequately maintain the garbage and other waste receptacles
  • Keep the following in safe working condition: electrical, sanitation, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and other facilities and appliances
  • Comply with building codes impacting health and safety
  • Make all repairs needed to keep the premises habitable
  • Keep all common areas clean and in a safe condition

URLTA Tenant Requirements

Likewise, the URLTA clearly defines the requirements of tenants to maintain the landlord-tenant relationship lawfully. Tenants must:

  • Not disturb their neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises
  • Reasonably use the following: electrical, sanitation, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and other facilities and appliances
  • Keep plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits
  • Properly dispose of garbage and waste from their dwelling
  • Keep the premises clean and safe
  • Comply with obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable building and housing codes

Consequences of URLTA

It is beneficial for landlords to read the URLTA because it also clearly states the consequences of violating a lease. While state laws specifically dictate how and why a landlord may terminate, URLTA specifies the following must occur before filing for eviction:

  • The notice must be given for the first violation of the lease
  • An unconditional quit notice must give the tenant 14 days to move out

The lease or rental agreement must be violated with a repeated act twice within six months for a landlord to pursue eviction under URLTA.

Wrap Up

Before you get into the rental property business, particularly if you are planning on self-managing, it is best recommended that you read the whole Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA). Thankfully, it is not that long of a read, and you can learn a tremendous amount of crucial information relating to the landlord-tenant relationship.

In addition to reading the URLTA once, it’s essential to keep yourself up to date over the years. Stay refreshed and know what expectations are set forth for you as a landlord and your tenants.

 


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