Landlord-tenant law, including eviction law, governs the rental of both commercial and residential property. It is composed primarily of state statutory and common law. A number of states have based their statutory laws on either the Uniform Residential Landlord And Tenant Act (URLTA) or the Model Residential Landlord-Tenant Code. Federal statutory law may also be considered during national or regional emergencies, and also to prevent certain forms of discrimination.
The legal relationship between a landlord and tenant is defined in both contract and property laws. The tenant has a property interest in the land (a non-freehold estate) for a given period of time. The length of the tenancy may be for a given period of time, for an indefinite period of time, (e.g., renewable/cancelable on a month to month basis), terminable at any time by either party (at will), or at sufferance, which denotes that the agreement has been terminated but the tenant refuses to leave (holds over).
If the tenancy is tenancy for years or periodic the tenant has the right to possess the land, to restrict others (including the landlord) from entering upon it, and to sublease or assign the property. The landlord-tenant agreement may eliminate or limit these rights! The landlord-tenant agreement is normally embodied in a lease. The lease, though not historically or strictly a contract, may be subject to concepts embodied in contract law.
The landlord-tenant relationship is founded on duties proscribed by either statutory law , the common law, or the individual lease. The provisions that may be contained in a lease are typically regulated by statutory law. Basic to all leases is the implied covenant of Quiet Enjoyment. This covenant ensure the tenant that his possession will not be disturbed by someone with a superior legal title to the land including the landlord. A breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment may be actual or constructive. A constructive eviction occurs when the landlord causes the premises to become uninhabitable.
Housing codes were established to ensure that residential rental units were habitable at the time of rental and during the tenancy. Depending on the state, housing code violations may lead the tenant being allowed to withhold rent or to administrative action. The living conditions of a residential rental unit are ensured by warranties of habitability which are embodied in common and/or statutory laws. A breach of the warranty of habitability, or a covenant within the lease, may constitute constructive eviction, allow the tenant to withhold rent, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, or recover damages.
Unless the lease states otherwise there is an assumption that the tenant has a duty to pay rent. State statutes may provide for a reasonable rental value to be paid absent a rental price provision. In commercial leases rent is commonly calculated in part or whole as a percentage of the tenants sales. Rent acceleration clauses provides that all of the rent becomes due in the event that the renter breaches a provision of the lease. Rent acceleration clauses are common in both residential and commercial leases.
Summary eviction statutes commonly allow a landlord to quickly evict a tenant who breaches statutorily specified lease provisions. Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing and the rental market.
Landlords are restricted from evicting tenants for enforcing a provision of the lease, or applicable laws!
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