Posted: March 24th, 2023
Tenancy contracts and agreements are popular in any society, particularly on issues related to the rental houses. The tenancy contracts involve the property owner or his appointed agent and the tenant. The law indicates the duties and responsibilities that the parties to a tenancy agreement are to fulfill (Mann & Roberts, 2013). In addition, the law provides the rights entitled to each of the two parties. A case study involving Roger as a tenant and Larry as a landlord assists in the analysis of the rights and obligations as well as the underlying consequences of not fulfilling those responsibilities.
Legal Rights and Responsibilities: The tenant and the landlord
In a tenancy, the landlord and the tenant have the legal rights and responsibility as outlined in both the federal and state laws. A tenant has four key duties where the first duty is to pay the agreed rent on or before time. The agreement in the tenancy states the intervals and the amount of rent the tenant is to pay. For example, the duration can be annual, monthly, or weekly, depending on the specific date agreed. The second duty is to keep the apartment or the rental property clear and in good condition (Mann & Roberts, 2013). The tenant should ensure that the garbage does scatter within the rental property. Thirdly, the tenant has the duty to repair any damage that he/she incurred during the time of occupancy. Finally, the tenant has the duty to notify the landlord of the damages the landlord is required to repair.
The tenant is legally entitled to some rights. First, he/she has the right to access the rental property and enjoy the accommodation. The landlord or other tenants should not disrupt the tenant from enjoying the accommodation. Secondly, the tenant has a right to contact the landlord or the responsible agent at the time deemed reasonable if an issue arises. The right, in this case, can be enhanced by having the appropriate contact information, including phone numbers, postal address, and email address. Upon the prolonged damages to the property and the owner is reluctant to repair, the tenant has the right to hold rent and spend it partly or entirely on repairing the damages. The right, in this case, is allowed only when the tenant has notified the landlord and the damaged property becomes inhabitable (Miller & Jentz, 2010). The tenant is also entitled to the right and reasonable notice upon the termination of tenancy. Lastly, the tenant is entitled to the refund of the deposit amount paid to the landlord unless there are legal damages that he/she is supposed to compensate.
The landlord is legally required to undertake some responsibilities. First, before a new tenant comes in, he/she has the duty to ensure that the premise is habitable in its interior and exterior spaces. Secondly, he/she must ensure that the common areas, including the hallways, stairs, and yards are clean and well illuminated. In addition, the landlord is required to repair the floors, ceilings, the roof, and walls appropriately before the entry of a new tenant or with the notice of the existing tenant. On the other hand, he/she has the right to receive payment on time from the tenant as agreed in the tenancy contract (Miller & Jentz, 2010). Still, he/she has the right to access the property upon reasonable notification to the tenant, especially when the premise requires an urgent repair. Lastly, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant, who is not fulfilling his/her legal duties. For example, if the tenant refuses to pay the rent and or does not respect the rights of other tenants and neighbors.
The Landlord and the Tenant Legal Duty to Mitigate Damages
The duty to mitigate the damages from either the landlord or the tenant can be determined based on the legal duties and responsibilities. The landlord has the primary duty to ensure that the property safe and no issues that are likely to lead to damages before the tenant occupy the premise. In this case, it is clear that Larry was aware of the leak in the roof, which would have led to the damages of the tenants’ properties if it rained. The landlord had the duty to mitigate such damages by repairing the leak before Roger comes in or before the start of the rainy season. Since this did not happen, Roger failed to fulfill his obligation by ensuring that the property was habitable (Miller & Jentz, 2010). In addition, upon receiving the report from the tenant about the damage, he did not positively respond despite the seriousness and urgency of the matter.
As a tenant, Roger would have prevented the damage in three ways. The first way is to move his belongings into a safer part of the house upon the realization of the leakage. The mitigation, in this case, is considered reasonable, but not a legal obligation. The tenant was also expected to notify the him/her about the leakage to avoid further damages, which did not happen at the appropriate time. Thirdly, upon the failure of the landlord to positively respond when he raised the issue of the damage, he should have used his right to hold rent (Mann, & Roberts, 2013). In fact, Roger would have used part or the entire rent for the month to pay for the repair of the leakage to mitigate further damages.
Larry Legal Grounds to Evict Roger
The landlord or his agent can evict a tenant based on legal reasons. The first ground upon which the property owner can legally evict the tenant is when the tenant grossly violates the rental agreement. The violation of the agreement is deemed as a breach of a contract, which gives the property owner the right to evict. The second reason is the failure to pay the rent on time as agreed and beyond the buffer time allowed by the law (McFarlane, Hopkins, & Nield, 2015). The failure to pay the rent without a reasonable ground indicates that the tenant has not fulfilled certain obligations. The third reason for eviction is when the tenant uses the house/property for illegal business. For example, when a tenant sells narcotics from the property, the landlord has the right to evict him/her through a simple notice. Lastly, the landlord can evict a tenant when he damages the property and would require gross replacement or massive repair. However, when the tenant notifies the landlord and able and ready to meet the repair cost, the landlord has no absolute right to evict the tenant.
From the legal grounds identified, there is one possible reason Larry would attempt to evict Roger. Roger did not have an issue with rent payment, illegal business, or any violation of the tenancy agreement. The only ground for eviction would, therefore, be the damage caused by the baseball bat. However, Larry can only evict Roger if he refuses to repair the specific damage caused.
Roger and Larry’s legal Obligation to Pay for the Damage
A tenant has the legal obligation to pay or repair the damages caused to a rented property. From the scenario, it is clear that Roger threw his baseball bat and knocked an electrical socket. Despite the fact that Roger acted out of anger because of the failure of Larry to repair the earlier leak, Roger has the obligation to pay for the damages. Anger may not be a legal defense, and hence there was no reasonable ground to act the way he acted (McFarlane, Hopkins, & Nield, 2015). In fact, he had the right not to pay the property owner and repair the leakage using the money meant for the rent. On the other hand, it is clear that the negligence by Larry to under the duty of care and disclosure of material facts about the property led to damages incurred by his tenant (Miller & Jentz, 2010). It is clear that he was aware and not willing to repair the leakage until Roger had to remind him repeatedly. The damages suffered by the tenant are, therefore, directly because of his landlord’s failure to fulfill his responsibility as a property owner.
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