Does Every Renter Need an Attorney?
Reasons you might need an attorney if you’re renting.
For many, assistance from an attorney is the last resort in resolving an issue or conflict with lease or landlord issues. Most people would sooner see out every option for doing something themselves before making a call, and even then plenty would rather give up entirely than look to an attorney for help. And while that apprehension can be understood, given the stereotypes that perpetuate about lawyers, it’s more than a little misguided and can be costly.
Consulting a lawyer can save you time, money, and heartache associated with issues with your home. An attorney can help you navigate through the thorniest problems surrounding your tenant issues, ensuring that you’re making the right decisions based on all the information. Most importantly, a lawyer can help you get started with a proper lease that covers all the potential pitfalls and protects your tenant rights. Here are more than a few instances in which you’ll be glad for the help of a lawyer on your side.
Are you moving into a new place and unsure of your lease agreement?
If you’re looking at a rental lease agreement and you feel uncertain or uncomfortable about what is included, have a lawyer review the lease. By law, the landlord is not permitted to offer you different lease terms based upon factors such as race or religion, and doing so would give you a case against them under the Fair Housing Act. You also want to ensure that every contingency and condition is covered under your lease, and as non-experts, we often don’t know what we don’t know; a lawyer versed in tenant laws can point out any discrepancies or omissions.
Is the landlord ignoring your grievances?
As a tenant, you have a right to a safe and reasonably well-maintained home with functioning utilities. And under both the law and the terms of your lease, your landlord has the responsibility for maintaining those conditions at certain standards. If your landlord is refusing to make necessary repairs to your unit for whatever reason, an attorney can advise you of how to resolve the issue and support you by writing letters and creating a record of the issues. Potential solutions can include terminating the lease for cause or based on another reason.
Is the landlord violating your privacy?
Tenants are also guaranteed a right to privacy in their homes, regardless of whatever assertions a landlord makes about ownership of the unit. Save for cases of emergency, a landlord cannot enter your unit without reason and sufficient advance notice — typically 24 to 48 hours. If your landlord is coming into your home without notice or cause, an attorney will help you to craft a demand letter outlining your grievances and can inform you of any further action you could take.
Is the landlord trying to evict you?
Even if an eviction is due to your own violation of the terms of your lease agreement, your landlord is nevertheless bound by law to follow the prescribed eviction process. That process can be complicated, and more than a little confusing; to ensure that your landlord is following the rules to the letter and that you’re doing your part in the proceedings, work with an attorney to review your lease and the tenant eviction process, plus the steps each party should take.
Do you have a security deposit dispute?
A security deposit refund can often be the last point of contention in a landlord-tenant relationship, with landlords refusing to return the money in a timely fashion or in the full amount that tenants feel they are due. A lease security deposit is another thing that is covered by the law and (hopefully) your lease; if your landlord is refusing to forward the money, an attorney can help you craft a security deposit demand letter.
Is your landlord suing you?
If your landlord has started a lawsuit against you for whatever reason, you’ll absolutely need an attorney’s assistance to support or even appear in court. Don’t try to go it alone for any reason, and particularly if the landlord has his or her own attorney.
The cost and the benefit:
The cost associated with attorneys is often the biggest deterrent for those who might otherwise consider enlisting legal help. Fortunately, a legal plan from LegalShield has put that help well within reach of the average tenant, removing that reason for not getting the expert advice you need to tackle these tricky legal situations.
Working with an attorney on your tenancy issues has an obvious benefit for tenants: the assurance that you’ll start your lease knowing what to do in resolving those issues, and that you will have professional help in doing it.
Sign up for a LegalShield membership to talk with an attorney and get the help you need for lease and landlord matters from day one.
LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at www.legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.
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