Even in today's society where there are strict rules for housing, it is still easy to be stuck as a tenant for a manipulative landlord. There are horror stories of landlords not fixing broken furnaces in the winter, entering apartments and rented homes unannounced at any hour, or doing other things that you may construe as harassing and manipulative.
It is actually a known tactic used by some unscrupulous landlords where there is legislation controlling rent to get tenants to voluntarily leave rather than pursuing normal channels of eviction. Here are ways to protect your family from a bad landlord.
Write everything down. Include names, dates, times, photographs and witnesses. Also, get any promises from your landlord in writing. Even a saved text or voicemail promise is helpful. If you are forced to fix things that are not your responsibility to fix, keep receipts. A paper trail is proof. Local code enforcement officers, building inspectors, and gas and electric utility workers can be useful in establishing the validity of code violations that lead to safety issues that a landlord refuses to fix.
Consider Rent Escrow
If your landlord keeps making promises to fix things that are needed to maintain livability in the rented apartment or home and does not actually make the repairs, then a rent escrow account may be useful. Things such as lack of electricity, water, working sewer system and rodent infestation are on the list of things that may justify setting up an escrow account.
These accounts must be established by the court system, and they hold the rent money until the landlord fixes the problems. The money is then distributed only by the court after repairs are completed. You cannot set up a rent escrow account on your own.
Seek Legal Advice from the Right Type of Lawyer
Landlord-tenant disputes involve navigating a very particular set of laws that are unique to each state and often each city where the problems occur. There are federal, state, county or parish, and local laws, ordinances and regulations to consider. On top of that, there is the actual leases that have been signed.
You have rights as a tenant that can only adequately be addressed by an experienced landlord-tenant dispute lawyer. You can ask a Brookfield real estate lawyer for help with your particular circumstance. Manipulative landlords often have years of experience working the system that your average tenant does not.
Learn Your Rights
The first thing you should do is to thoroughly read your lease agreement to make sure you are in compliance. It is tough to make a claim of landlord manipulation or harassment if you are in violation of a lease agreement you signed. Then, learn your legal rights for tenants in the state you live in. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has tenant rights pages categorized by each state.
You do not have to put up with harassing and manipulative landlords. There are resources to help you deal with anything from failures to make repairs on the rental property to a landlord trying to force you to abandon your lease in order to make a profit on a new tenant not subject to the same rent control rules. When there is any question, be sure to contact an experienced attorney in landlord-tenant disputes.