There are steps a tenant may take to protect themselves against wrongdoing by a landlord. This includes documenting the condition of the home before moving in, making sure promises regarding repairs are put in writing, and documenting the condition of the home prior to moving out. Low-wage workers may call our office for a free consultation.
How can I protect myself from wrongdoing by a landlord?
- Read your lease. Before you sign the lease, read it. Pay special attention to provisions having to do with repairs. If the landlord places the burden of repairs on you or if there are other requirements that seem unfair, you have a right to negotiate and ask for changes. Make sure the changes are reflected (even if crossed out, re-written and initialed) in the lease you sign. Low-wage workers can call us about lease questions.
- Promised repairs. If your landlord promises to make certain repairs if you agree to move in, get it in writing and have the landlord sign it.
- Keep records. Create a file for the lease, for all of your rental receipts and any communications you have with your landlord.
- Document pre-existing damages. When you first move in, inspect the home and document preexisting damages, such as tears in the carpet or holes in the wall. Make a list and photograph them. Send copies to your landlord by email or by mail and save copies. You don’t want to be charged for these damages when you move out.
- Photograph home before you move out. Document the condition of home before you move out. Show that you left the home in the same condition as when you moved in.
- Give proper notice before you move if you are month-to-month. If you decide to move, you must give your landlord notice at least one month BEFORE the day your rent is normally due. So if your rent is due on the first of each month and you plan to be out by the end of July, then you must give notice by June 30th (not July 1st). Give notice in writing and keep a copy.