As a landlord, your relationship with the tenant officially begins when they either sign a lease or enter the property. Even if the tenant never occupies the premises or pays rent, as long as they have signed a lease, there is still a landlord-tenant relationship in the eyes of the law. With this relationship comes certain rights and responsibilities, so it is important that both parties fully understand what is expected from them.

By law, if either party is wronged as a result of the rental agreement being broken by the other party, they could be entitled to compensation. Here are just a few things that are expected from the landlord and tenant to keep the relationship on solid footing and stay within the law.

Landlord responsibilities

One of the laws that is applicable to landlords in most states is having to make sure that a rental property is fit for habitation before the tenants first move in. The landlord must also keep the property in a habitable condition through repairs and maintenance after the tenants have moved in. This not only means that the property is structurally sound, but also that it has adequate water, electricity and heating.

In addition, the landlord must provide tenants with a way to dispose of garbage in order to keep the property clean. Anything promised by the landlord in the lease must be supplied to the tenant.

Tenant responsibilities

Tenants must pay their rent in compliance with the terms agreed upon in their rental agreement. They must also abide by the rules of the agreement in terms of behavior and keep the property clean. Any damages to the property because of willfulness or negligence by the tenant or people they permitted on the premises must be repaired.

Tenants are also not allowed to threaten, obstruct, coerce, harass or interfere with the landlord. If there are any serious problems requiring services or repairs to the property, the tenant must inform the landlord immediately.

Staying on the right side of the law

As a landlord, it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything that is required, but doing so is the only way to avoid lengthy – and often costly – legal ramifications. Being well-versed in what you can and cannot do by law, along with what the legal rights of tenants are, will help to keep the landlord-tenant relationship operating smoothly.

Laws can differ depending on what state you are in, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what is expected of you as a landlord.

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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.

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