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  > General advice on what to do and expect if you are renting

Tenant's Responsibilities
• Pay rent and utilities according to rental agreement.
• Maintain the premises in sanitary condition.
• Dispose of garbage properly.
• Pay for fumigation of infestations caused by the tenant (e.g. fleas from a cat).
• Properly use and maintain all electrical, gas, heating, plumbing, and other appliances provided by the landlord.
• Do not cause intentional or careless damage to the dwelling.
• Do not permit "waste" (substantial damage to the property) or "nuisance" (substantial interference like a dog barking all night) to persist.
• Upon moving out, restore the premises to the same condition as when the tenant moved in, aside from normal wear and tear.
• Follow all written agreements in the lease or any other signed documents.
Landlord's Responsibilities
• Maintain and repair the premises to comply with housing codes and regulations.
• Maintain structural components of the dwelling (roofs, floors, walls, fireplaces).
• Provide adequate locks and keys.
• Maintain electrical, plumbing, heating, and other appliances in good working order.
• Keep the premises in reasonably weather-tight condition.
• Control infestations by insects, rodents, and other pests before the tenant moves in. The landlord must continue to control infestations except in a house (e.g., single family dwellings) or when the problem was caused by the tenant.
• In apartments, studios, or any dwellings excluding houses, the landlord must provide garbage cans and arrange for garbage removal.
• Keep common areas such as lobbies, stairways and halls reasonably clean and free from hazards.
• Make repairs to keep the unit in the same condition as when the tenant moved in, except for normal wear and tear.
• Provide smoke detectors, and ensure they work properly when a new tenant moves in. (Tenants are responsible for maintaining detectors.)
A landlord is not responsible for the cost of correcting problems which are caused by the tenant.
Landlord's Access to the Rental Property
The landlord must give the tenant at least a two-day notice of intent to enter the property at reasonable times. The law states, however, that tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the rental when the landlord has given at least one day's notice of intent to enter at a specified time to show the dwelling to prospective or actual buyers or tenants. Tenants also must not unreasonably refuse the landlord access to repair, improve, or service the dwelling. In case of emergency, the landlord can enter without notice.

When something in the property needs to be repaired, the tenant's first step is to provide written (or otherwise agreed upon form of) notice of the problem to the landlord or person who collects the rent. The notice must include the address and apartment number of the rental and a description of the problem. If possible, it's a good idea to deliver the notice personally. After giving notice, the tenant must wait the required time for the landlord to begin making repairs.

Those allowable waiting times are:
• 24 hours for no hot or cold water, heat, or electricity, or for a condition that is imminently hazardous to life
• 72 hours for repair of refrigerator, range, and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by the landlord
• 10 days for all other repairs
If repairs are not started within the allowable time, and you are paid up in rent and utilities, you may exercise the following options:
• Move out. After waiting the required time, the law allows tenants to give written notice to the landlord and move out immediately. Tenants are entitled to a prorated refund of their rent, as well as the deposits they would normally receive.
• Litigation or arbitration. A tenant can hire an attorney and go to court to force the landlord to make repairs, or, if the landlord agrees, the dispute can be decided by an arbitration service. Arbitration is usually less costly and quicker than going to court.
• Hire someone to make the repairs. In many cases, the tenant can have the work done and then deduct the cost from the rent. Before the work is done, the tenant must submit an estimate to the landlord. To speed up the repair process, the estimate can be given to the landlord along with the original notice of the problem. The total cost of the repairs that may be deducted from the rent cannot exceed the amount of one month's rent.
Despite what you may hear from trusted and well-meaning advisers, you may not withhold your rent payments until the landlord makes repairs. You can be evicted for doing this. If you are having problems, contact our office.
Moving Out
When you want to move out of a rental unit, it is important to give appropriate notice to your landlord. In most cases it is not necessary to provide written notice if you are moving out at the expiration of a lease, though you should check your rental agreement to determine what, if any, kind of formal notice must be given.

If you leave before a lease expires, you are responsible for paying the rent for the remainder of the lease. However, the landlord must make an effort to re-rent the unit at a reasonable price. If this is not done, the tenant may not be liable for rent beyond a reasonable period of time.
If you stay beyond the expiration of the lease, and the landlord accepts the next month's rent, then you are assumed to be renting under a month-to-month agreement. Written notice at least 20 days before the end of the rental agreement is required to move out.

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