Renters / Landlords Show Uncertain Understanding of Basic Rental Laws

Even as demand for rental housing remains very strong, there is a great deal of confusion over existing rental laws among many landlords, and among tenants themselves, according to a Zillow Rentals survey. On average, renters and landlords answered about half of survey questions incorrectly (47 percent incorrect for renters / 50 percent for landlords) when asked about their respective rights and responsibilities.

Survey Findings:

Lack of Understanding on Security Deposit Laws:

  • MISCONCEPTION:  82 percent of renters and three-quarters (76 percent) of landlords said they believe the landlord has 60 days after a lease ends to refund a security deposit (or provide an itemized deduction statement and refund the balance).
  • TRUTH:  In most states security deposits must be returned between 14 and 30 days.

Lack of Understanding on Early Lease Termination:

  • MISCONCEPTION:  Nearly two-thirds of renters (62 percent) and half of landlords (50 percent) said the landlord has the right to terminate a lease in order to rent the home to his or her family member.
  • TRUTH:  Landlords may not evict a tenant during the term of the lease simply because they would prefer to rent the unit to a friend or family member, or even to someone willing to pay higher rent.

Lack of Understanding on Credit and Background Checks:

  • MISCONCEPTION:  More than three-quarters (76 percent) of landlords and 82 percent of renters said a landlord has the right to reject any rental application on the basis of a prior conviction for illegal drug use.
  • TRUTH:  While landlords do have the right to reject applications for criminal convictions of many kinds, they may not reject an applicant on the basis of a conviction for drug use. They can, however, reject a person who has been convicted of manufacturing or selling drugs, or who currently uses illegal drugs.

courtesy of:  California Association of Realtors, http://www.car.org/

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