Being homeowners who rent our primary residence in TN to travel the east coast of the USA, we know how important the Landlord-Tenant Act is. We only hire licensed professionals to do work in our home and thoroughly prepare it between rentals. In 2018, we installed two new toilets, a new garbage disposal, and a new washing machine; in 2017, a brand new refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher. We have fixed fence pickets, replaced shower heads, removed and replaced plants, put down weed prevention seed, replaced rotted wood around back door frames, cleaned all drains, and repainted rooms and closets. We intend to return to our home, so it is never allowed to become uninhabitable. We inspect our home quarterly. Most rental homes, however, are not lived in by the owners and are strictly treated as an "investment property." These are, all too frequently, allowed to deteriorate through neglect or, as they say in the vernacular, "go to pot." Since its purchase in 2012, we have screened and allowed only two renters for 1.5 and 2 yr leases.
The Landlord-Tenant Act came into being to protect renters from illegal behavior by landlords: invasion of privacy with no actual work being done, refusing to make repairs within a reasonable time frame, trying to cover up safety issues, entering the home without giving proper notice, increasing rent, increasing security deposit, "fining" a tenant for making repair requests, making illegal deductions from the security deposit, intimidating tenants, retaliatory evictions, gross misrepresentation of the property, renting it with known health and safety hazards, removing services to retaliate for repair requests, and forcing tenants to make repairs instead of using the rent money and hiring licensed professionals. All of these are illegal actions. Landlords are liable for dangers they SHOULD have known about, like faulty wiring too; they are not allowed to hide their heads in the sand, like an ostrich, refusing to see problems and feigning surprise.
I think it's safe to say that if you have to repeatedly call the City Codes Department, the Public Health and Safety Department, go to court, or hire a lawyer to obtain a habitable living space, you are dealing with a "slumlord." If your landlord cyberstalks you [sending threatening messages to do you harm, your family members harm, or threatening to do your business[es] harm, using the internet to communicate such messages] they have committed a FEDERAL crime against which you have legal remedy. This type of landlord can even be required to take anger managementclasses.
Without a doubt, a rental home should be made habitable PRIOR to it being put up for rent; that means every appliance, every system in the home from floodlights to HVAC and garage door openers is to be in working order BEFORE your renter is handed the keys. If you say you have a home with a "heated pool"...the heater needs to work. If you say you've never had water in the basement, it should not repeatedly flood. A home is not to be put up for rent with known defects, forcing the renter endure repair after repair, with numerous workmen in an out of the house, as things continually fall apart all around them.
We hope you will learn from our three rental mistakes in FL, SC and CT, for there are valuable lessons to be learned from all three experiences!
Florida: North Forth Myers: Duplex Rental: 5879 Littlestone Court, North Fort Myers, FL, Nov. 15, 2015-October 20, 2016 Four Lessons Learned: 1. Use the City Codes Department as your advocate to get your landlord to do needed repairs. 2. Never rent a "fully furnished" home with the owner's property locked in cabinets and using up needed space in the garage or attic. Who knows what they may have locked up inside! 3. Bring your own furniture; then you know it will be free of bugs/fleas from the last tenant with a pet. It is a fact that fleas can live up to 90 days even without a host and if a landlord has "bug bombed" the premises, the bugs will return after the 90- day window stated in your lease to become YOUR problem. Our advice: avoid homes that have allowed pets in the past. 4. Lastly, don't trust the photos posted online to be current and report any gross misrepresentation to your state's real estate commission board. The duplex was represented online in this manner: https://hotpads.com/5879-littlestone-ct-north-fort-myers-fl-33903-sn5ett/b/pad Actual issues upon move-in: Non-functioning heater in pool, ripped lanai screens, "fully furnished" meant the owners belongings used up every bit of garage storage space and the attic, sun damaged lounge chairs, no-see-um/sand flea infestation in all of the upholstered furniture, no separate mailbox for side B of unit, torn plastic fence, broken privacy screen near whirlpool, moldy shutters in the bathroom, unbalanced fans in bedroom, tagged gas leak in fireplace logs, used grill with previous renter's food yet in it. It stopped being listed as a rental with Priceless Realty in 11/2016 and has been on the market for three years. Semantics matter; so, to clarify: this $365K duplex does not "back up to an old golf course." It backs up to a former, now abandoned, golf course with nuisance coyotes.
South Carolina: Summerville: Single Family Home: 233 Pemberly Boulevard, Summerville, SC Nov 13, 2017-June 29, 2018 Three Lessons Learned: 1. Do not trust photos posted online about a rental home to be an accurate representation of the property you will receive. There is no entity holding realtors [above] or homeowners [below] accountable for posting only date-stamped photos. 2. Write into your lease that licensed professionals, not the landlords, are to do all work in the home or you will get the "handiwork" shown in this slideshow. 3. Purchase a Canary home monitoring system that is linked to your phone and the nearest police station for security to prevent repeated acts of invasion of privacy with no actual work being accomplished by the landlord. 4. Keep a log of your landlord's IP address and report any use of fake names/aliases in correspondence; in this case, Paula Lindsey used "Sam," "Betty,""Kelvin Smith" and "True Honesty" linked to her direct email, cell number and home address! The home we rented in SC in 2017 for $1450/month was represented using photos copied from the 2015 sale of the home by Agent-Owned: https://www.agentowned.com/listings/view/233-pemberly-boulevard-summerville-sc-15000587.html Actual Issues: cracked tile, cracked front door, unstretched carpet near doorways, sliced linoleum, no floodlights, DIY lights in the DR and laundry, crackling/arching switches, a kinked common garden hose used as a washer connection, absence of a garage door lock, non-functioning garage door sensors, an erratic HVAC thermostat, dog-chewed windowsills, chemical stains on the carpet, refrigerator baffle out of alignment, bowed fence, wrong locks on doors: keyed lock on MB and bedroom lock on an exterior door, "4th BR"/sunroom with a non-functioning heater, 13- yr-old garbage disposal missing one blade, washing machine that worked on one cycle only, dryer that squealed from a malfunctioning belt and pulley...and refrigerator with arms to hold condiments made from exterior vinyl siding. We entered the following photos into court March 26, 2018 and made certain they were deemed "pre-existing conditions." After we departed June 29, 2018, our landlords once again advised renters to "go to MOVOTO" to see lovely dated 2015 photos, rented the home for less than a year, then reused the same 2015 pics to advertise it for rent available 7/1/2019 priced even higher at $1625! Screen shots capture the attempt to repeat scam. https://www.movoto.com/summerville-sc/233-pemberly-blvd-summerville-sc-29483-812_15000587/
Seymour, CT: Single Family Home: 11 Woodside Avenue, Seymour, CT, July 2018-March 2019 Three Lessons Learned: 1. Much of Connecticut has radon levels over 4.0. Buy a Safety Siren online for $149 that you can plug into any outlet in any room and check the levels for yourself. There is actually no safe level of radon; it is linked to lung cancer. 2. When someone says they have "never had water in the basement," ask to see proof in the form of the disclosure form given to them when they purchased the home. There is also a mold disclosure form required of anyone selling a home. If you landlords purchased the home "as is" he/she may not have obtained these forms, but that does not absolve them from making repairs. 3. Use the Health and Public Safety Department to address water seepage, black mold issues, radon problems and mice infestations, and insist they document everything accurately on paper, for you may need it to end your lease.
Every person deserves to live in a home that is habitable!