By Gary J. Bowers, Attorney at Law
In North Carolina, many people are connected to the residential rental world. Most individuals rent an apartment or house before purchasing a home, and even parents with a child in college who is renting a place to live off campus find themselves with residential landlord/tenant questions. On the other side of things, some people have investment properties that they lease, and some have inherited an older home they desire to fix up and rent to supplement their income.
Do you need an attorney for these transactions? Below are some instances that may offer a direction for both tenants and landlords of when to seek legal counsel.
Instances when a residential tenant should consider consulting with a legal professional:
- Written lease agreements can be complex and may contain clauses that strongly favor the landlord. I recommend the tenant consult a legal professional to review and explain the provisions of the written lease agreement before signing it;
- For assistance with notice to the landlord for repairs, with notice of the tenant’s intention to vacate the premises, and with notice of the tenant’s intention to terminate a lease;
- While leasing the premises, the tenant encounters an issue with the leased premises that makes the premises uninhabitable or not suitable for living;
- If the tenant receives a notice for past due rents or notice to vacate, and has questions about the proper procedure or his/her rights; and
- If the tenant has questions regarding the status of his/her security deposit.
Instances when a residential landlord should consider consulting with a legal professional:
- If you, as the landlord, have used the same written lease for the past 20 years, it is probably time to update it. I recommend you have an attorney review and assist in updating the lease provisions;
- If the property to be leased was built before 1978, the landlord is responsible for making certain he or she is providing proper information to the tenants about lead-based paints and the potential health hazards, and having tenants read and acknowledge receipt of such information;
- If the landlord has questions about proper handling of a tenant’s security deposit;
- If the landlord needs to file summary ejectment and reclaim possession of the rental premises;
- If there are consistent issues with the quality of tenants, the landlord should speak with counsel to review and revise the rental application.
If you have questions on landlord/tenant related topics, please contact our office to schedule an appointment to meet with a real estate attorney.