What Are a Landlord & Tenant’s Obligations to Each Other?

Landlords and tenants depend upon each other: One requires space to live or operate a business, and the other provides it in exchange for monthly rent. Landlord-tenant relationships exist everywhere you look, and most – by far – exist under a lease that outlines each party’s obligations to the other.

Whether outlined in a lease or not, though, landlords and tenants owe each other certain key obligations that anyone who considers themselves to be either party should know. Keep reading below to learn more about these key obligations.

What Landlords Owe to Tenants

Tenants are protected by a number of rights that landlords must be careful to observe. In most cases, these rights exist to protect tenants against financial exploitation and protect their health and safety while occupying a space on the landlord’s property.

Security Deposits

Landlords are legally permitted to require the tenant to submit a security deposit upon occupation of the dwelling or business space. The security deposit is separate from the monthly rent, and its purpose is to protect the landlord in the event the tenant breaks or violates the lease.

Landlords in Rhode Island can’t require a security deposit that is greater than a month’s worth of rent. Also, landlords must not withhold the security deposit upon a tenant’s vacancy and must return it within 20 days after the tenant has vacated and provided a forwarding address.

Condition of the Premises

If a landlord is in charge of a residential rental property, he or she is responsible for ensuring it is in good condition. This means that the landlord has provided safe heating, electrical, and plumbing equipment, as well as garbage bins or dumpsters. Landlords are also responsible for keeping common areas like patios, stairs, hallways, etc. safe and clean.

A landlord has an obligation to maintain the premises and they must comply with all building codes and meet the housing standards of the Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code. It is also the landlord's responsibility to make sure all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and other facilities (and appliances provided as part of the rental agreement) are kept in operable condition and meet housing code standards. When a landlord is not complying with a rental agreement the tenant has the right to terminate the lease agreement. For minor repairs under $125 a tenant can make the necessary repairs and deduct the cost from the rent to be paid the following month. There are very strict advance notification requirements owed to the Landlord under either option and any self-help repairs must good enough to pass State and local housing and building codes.

What Tenants Owe to Landlords

Tenants also have several key obligations to their landlords. Failing to keep up with the obligations can provide the landlord with a reason to go to court and request the right to evict a tenant from the premises.

Full Rent Must Be Paid On Time

Unless otherwise agreed to or arranged with a landlord, tenants are responsible for providing the full amount of rent stated in their lease by its monthly due date. If a tenant is renting space on a month-to-month basis after their lease expires, they are still obliged to pay rent according to the original arrangement until a new lease is offered.

Tenants Are Responsible for Damage/Failing to Maintain Premises

Although landlords must provide a space that’s in good condition, tenants are responsible for keeping it in good condition. This means that tenants must repair any damage caused by themselves, guests, children, or pets. Tenants are also responsible for keeping the premises in a clean and sanitary condition, which includes removing garbage and cleaning up messes that could cause bad smells or even damage to the unit.

Tenants should also report issues like problems with the electrical or plumbing systems, or pest infestations, as soon as possible so that the landlord can intervene to maintain a habitable environment.

Tenants Must Provide Forwarding Address

Tenants are required to provide their landlord with their forwarding address after they vacate the premises. This is so that the landlord can locate them to return the remainder of their security deposit or send an invoice for the repair of any damage to the premises.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you are involved in a landlord-tenant legal dispute, let The Law Office of Steven J. Hart help. Our capable attorney has many years of finely honed legal experience and skills that can be applied to your unique situation.

Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online today!

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