How the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Protect Tenants

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How the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Protect Tenants

Staff Writer · Jun 17, 2010

First written in 1972, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) is intended to protect landlords and tenants engaged in a residential rental relationship. Each of the 50 States has enacted the URLTA, but may have made changes to it, meaning that each state’s version may have slight differences. Despite this, however, the URLTA still has a basis of uniform rules intended to protect tenants. Below are a few of the protections the Act provides tenants.

Delivery of Possession

The URLTA mandates that the landlord must deliver possession of the rental unit to the tenant within a reasonable time after entering into a rental agreement. Check with your local tenant’s association for your state’s specific dates and rules regarding delivery of possession.

Maintenance of the Premises

Under the URLTA, a landlord is required to maintain the unit and common areas according to local and national laws and codes. Additionally, the landlord is required to timely make necessary repairs of units and common areas. The Act specifically states that a landlord must provide water to tenants as well as all plumbing, sanitary and electrical equipment. The landlord is also required to maintain appropriate trash receptacles.

Remedies for Failure to Abide By Act

Violations of the URLTA can result in the tenant rightfully terminating the lease without being in violation of its terms. However, the tenant is not able to end the lease due to his actions or intentional or accidental causing damage that makes the apartment inhabitable. Should the tenant rightfully terminate the lease, the landlord is required to return the security deposit and all prepaid rents to the tenant.

Prohibits Retaliatory Conduct

The URLTA clearly states that a landlord against whom a complaint of violation of the Act’s terms has been filed. Of course, the URLTA cannot prevent a landlord from retaliating against a tenant, but it does set forth that such acts are violations of the rule and can be result in penalizations.

Sets the Amount of Security Deposit

One of the most important provisions of the URLTA is the one that sets the  maximum amount of security deposit a landlord may collect and directs how that deposit may be used after the tenant vacates the apartment. According to the URLTA, a landlord may only collect up to one month’s rent as a security deposit. This security deposit may be used after vacating the apartment only to repair damage or fulfill any unpaid bills.

Sets Prohibited Lease Provisions

The URLTA also identifies and prohibits lease terms considered unconscionable. Again, although a particular state could have added to or expanded these terms, in general they include prohibiting the tenant to waive any rights under the URLTA, agreeing to pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees should a conflict arise, or allowing anyone other than a judge to resolve disputes. These prohibitions are intended to protect a tenant from being taken advantage of by an ill-intentioned landlord.

If you believe that your landlord has made your apartment uninhabitable or violated a lease term or building code, check with the URLTA to see what protections and remedies it offers. While not designed only to protect tenants, more often than not the Act benefits tenants rather than landlords.

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