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  • Daniel Rodriguez

Understanding a landlord’s obligations under the law

California landlords and renters need to be aware of a landlord’s responsibilities. Unfortunately, landlord/tenant relationships can sometimes experience friction. Understanding the role of a landlord, as well as his or her legal obligations, are often critical in navigating conflicts.

Landlord/tenant matters can go beyond the basics, but in all cases, a landlord has significant responsibilities. These include managing deposits and maintaining rental properties.

Initial obligations

Most landlords require tenants to pay a security deposit before moving in, and there are laws governing these deposits. These laws limit the amount that can be collected and landlords are obligated to keep that deposit safe and return it at the end of the lease as prescribed under state and local law. Other requirements include providing the tenant with the name and information of the owner of the property and ensuring that the property is vacant and habitable by the tenant’s move-in date.

Ongoing obligations

Once the tenant has taken possession of the property, a landlord continues to have certain legal obligations. The primary one is to continue to maintain the property. This means keeping it safe and clean, complying with any building codes, and providing access to utilities, such as heat, hot running water and electricity.

Finally, the landlord continues to be bound by the terms of the lease agreement they created with the tenant. This obligation usually ends after a landlord sells a property, at which point the new owner takes on that obligation.

Understanding the ins and outs of a landlord’s obligation toward their tenant is important from either side of the landlord/tenant relationship. Knowing what is and isn’t permitted means no one takes advantage of anyone else.

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