Ignorantia legis neminem excusat is a Latin phrase that means “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”. It’s a legal principle that means that nobody can escape the penalties of violating a law just because they didn’t know about that law. That means, as a Brookfield property owner, it is crucial to understand the laws that govern rental homes in your district. Landlord-tenant law defines the rights and obligations that both landlords and tenants have relative to a rental property. While some aspects of landlord/tenant law vary from state to state, there are other parts of the law that all property owners – and tenants – would do well to remember.
Landlord/tenant law always depends on the strength of your lease agreement. Lease agreements are binding contracts that should outline the relationship between the landlord and their tenant. A good lease agreement should have detailed information about the responsibilities of both parties as well as language that protects their rights.
However, any lease agreement must also follow state and federal tenant/landlord law. Every so often, Brookfield property owners might include sections of a lease agreement that violate those laws. To illustrate, discriminating against a tenant based on gender, religion, race, or disability is illegal. Such discrimination violates the Federal Fair Housing Act, which protects individuals in certain classes from being denied housing. Needless to say, the portions of the lease agreement that violate the law will are not binding.
While different important laws govern the landlord-tenant relationship, don’t forget to keep a note of the ones that regulate security deposits. Commonly, landlords impose a security deposit before moving in. But, the amount of the deposit may be limited under your state law. Landlord/tenant laws also dictate how security deposits are to be returned, including how soon the refund must be issued after a tenant moves out.
For instance, the law states that all security deposits must be returned to a tenant when they move out, minus any documented deductions for repairs or cleaning costs. Deposits can be a bit tricky at times. While it is true that some deductions are allowed, it is also true that it’s illegal for a landlord to deduct the cost of regular maintenance or normal wear and tear.
In many states, landlords have a maximum of 30 days to return a tenant’s security deposit. Exceeding this timeframe could have serious consequences for any landlord, so it’s vital to observe any time limits included in your state or local laws.
Tenant/landlord law also normally includes protections for both tenant rights and landlord rights. As a minimum, most state laws state that tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, a livable condition, and a certain level of privacy. Landlords, however, also have responsibilities to make sure that their property maintenance and oversight do not violate these rights.
Without a doubt, the law also ensures that landlords can protect their rights. State laws protect a landlord’s right to require a monthly rental payment as well as other payments as specified in the lease (utility bills, for instance). The law also protects a landlord’s ability to evict tenants for nonpayment or other legal causes. However, frequently a very specific process must be followed to ensure that a tenant’s rights are not violated during an eviction.
By remembering key aspects of landlord/tenant law, you can assure yourself that your rental properties and policies are in compliance. Operating within the law can help you avoid expensive and unnecessary lawsuits and keep your rental properties profitable for years to come.
At Real Property Management Greater Milwaukee, our team of expert Brookfield property managers is here to handle the legal requirements for you. Our staff is trained and well versed in landlord/tenant law, equal housing, fair housing, and more. We have a variety of property management plans just for you. Contact us online or call us at 262-309-6961.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.