Most landlord-tenant agreements are laid out in a lease. A lease is a contractual document that spells out the length of the landlord-tenant relationship, the use of the property, type of occupancy, and any type of restriction on the property, such as smoking or having pets.

However, even outside of a lease or in the absence, a landlord still owes certain duties to their tenants, and is entitled to a number of rights.

What Are a Landlord's Rights Without a Lease?

A landlord has the right to:

  • Be paid rent on time
  • Ensure the property meets applicable housing codes
  • Screen and choose the tenants to reside on the property
  • Collect a security deposit
  • Enter the unit in emergencies that threaten the property
  • Enter the unit to make scheduled or necessary repairs
  • Evict tenants who do not pay rent, destroy or severely damage the property, or break the law or agreed rules

What Are a Landlord's Obligations In a Lease?

A landlord is obligated to:

  • Maintain all units in a hospitable condition
  • Return the security deposit at the termination of the lease, minus any costs to repair or clean the unit pursuant to local law
  • Collect only the rent and any applicable penalties
  • Provide adequate notice of showing the property, late rent, or eviction
  • Respect the privacy of all tenants
  • Not consider race, ethnicity, religion, sex, disability, or sexual orientation of tenants

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Landlord-tenant law is incredibly specific to the area the property is located. For example, in addition to state law, one city may offer rent control, whereas the next town over may not. The above tips are just a few of the general rights that landlords should be aware of. To help make your life as a landlord easier, it would be wise to consult with an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer who is familiar with the law in your area.