June 29, 2000
LANDLORD AND TENANT LAWS
By: Sandra N. Bragg, Legislative Fellow
Ben Hardy, Research Analyst
Sandra Norman-Eady, Senior Attorney
You asked if other states have a “Landlord Bill of Rights” that offers protection for landlords. If not, you wanted to know what states have done to “protect” landlords.
No state has a “Landlord Bill of Rights.” But all states provide some type of protection for landlords. When determining laws that “protect” landlords, we looked for laws that either provide greater protection than Connecticut or address issues not covered under Connecticut law. We concentrated on laws that (1) expedite or establish different grounds for eviction, (2) like Connecticut, make tenants criminally liable for the destruction of a landlord's property, (3) specify the amount owed by holdover tenants (those who refuse to vacate leased premises after they no longer have a right to stay), (4) protect the rental property, (5) allow greater freedom regarding the disposal of abandoned property, and (6) create different ways for landlords to recover rent. We have attached a summary of Connecticut's landlord and tenant laws.
Nine states appear to have laws that either expedite or establish new grounds for eviction. They are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, and Washington. Missouri, for example, allows a court to order an emergency eviction if it finds that an emergency exists whereby a tenant would cause physical damage to a landlord's property unless immediate action is taken.
Two states impose criminal penalties on tenants. Arkansas punishes them for refusing to vacate the premises after they no longer have a right to stay there. It also punishes people who try to entice tenants to break a lease. North Carolina, like Connecticut, punishes them for intentionally destroying a landlord's property.
Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Wisconsin make holdover tenants liable for double the rental value.
Six states attempt to protect landlords' property by allowing them to do such things as sue for damages, attach a tenant's wages for property destruction, seek injunctive relief, or file criminal charges. These states are Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, and Texas.
In Arkansas and Wyoming, property remaining on premises after termination of a lease agreement is presumed abandoned and landlords may dispose of it as they see fit.
Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas provide different ways for landlords to recover rent. For example, Arizona and Oklahoma give them a lien on any property the tenant keeps on the leased premises until the rent is paid.
LAWS FAVORABLE TO LANDLORDS
Expedited or New Grounds for Eviction
Alabama. When a rental unit is leased for a specified period and the term expires, the tenant is bound to surrender possession and the landlord is not required to serve a notice to quit or otherwise demand possession (ACA § 35-9-8).
A landlord can get possession to leased premises within one day after a court enters judgment against a tenant who has attempted to prove that he is not a holdover tenant (ACA § 35-9-86).
Alaska. If the tenant or someone in his control deliberately inflicts substantial damage to leased premises, the landlord may deliver a written notice to quit specifying the act constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate on a date that is at least 24 hours after the notice is served. Damage is “substantial” if it results in the loss, destruction, or defacement of property in excess of $400 (ASA § 34.03.220).
If a tenant refuses to allow a landlord lawful access to leased property, the landlord may get an injunction to compel access or terminate the rental agreement. In either case, the landlord may recover actual damages or one month's periodic rent, whichever is greater. If the landlord terminates the rental agreement, he must give the tenant 10-days written notice (ASA § 34.03.300).
Arizona. If a tenant neglects or refuses to pay rent within five days after it is due or violates any lease provision, the landlord may re-enter and take possession or without formal demand or re-entry, commence an action for recovery of possession of the premises. The action must be tried within five to 30 days after commencement (ARS § 33-361).
Colorado. The court may, for good cause shown, require either party to a lease agreement to give bond or other security it approves and sets, to compensate the opposite party for damages caused by requests to delay a trial longer than five days (CRS § 13-40-114).
Hawaii. Landlords are not required to give tenants an opportunity to remedy a material noncompliance with a lease or statute when the noncompliance causes or threatens to cause irremediable damage to people or property (HRS § 521-69).
Idaho. Landlords may combine an action for possession of leased property (eviction) with an action for damage. When this is done, the case is not disposed of summarily but treated as other civil cases (IC Sec. 6-311E).
Indiana. A landlord may bring an action for emergency possession of leased premises against a tenant who commits or threatens to commit waste. The court must schedule the hearing within three business days. It cannot grant a continuance unless the moving party shows by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice will occur if it is not granted.
If the court finds probable cause to believe that the tenant committed or threatened to commit waste, it must issue the order or order the tenant to cease and desist (ICA § 32-7-9-1 et seq.).
Missouri. If a landlord files a petition alleging that a tenant engaged in certain illegal or damaging behavior, the court must schedule a hearing as soon as practicable, but no later than 15 days after the tenant is served with the summons. The court must order the tenant's immediate eviction if it finds:
(1) an emergency situation where the tenant's dispossession by other, less expeditious, legal means would cause imminent physical injury to the landlord or other tenants or physical damage to the landlord's property in an amount greater than twelve months' rent;
(2) drug-related criminal activity occurred on the tenant's leased property;
(3) the leased property was used to further, promote, aid, or assist in drug-related criminal activity;
(4) the tenant, a household member, or a guest engaged in drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased property;
(5) the tenant permitted or invited a person to enter or remain on any portion of the leased property knowing that the person had been removed or barred from said property; or
(6) the tenant failed to promptly notify the landlord that the person returned to, entered, or remained on the property leased by the tenant.
The court must order the immediate removal of any person who engages in criminal activity on or near the leased property. Anyone removed from the leased premises must be immediately barred from entering or remaining on any portion of the leased property.
The court may order the sheriff or other appropriate agency to execute the eviction order within a specified number of days after final judgment (MRS § 441-710-780).
Washington. A landlord may bring an unlawful detainer action against any tenant he determines is engaged in gang-related activities. The landlord must take reasonable steps to investigate allegations of gang activity by his tenants. If he fails to conduct the investigation, the complainant (another tenant or someone living within one block of the leased premises where the alleged gang member lives) may petition the court to have the offender's lease terminated and the tenant removed (WRC § 59.18.510).
Arkansas. Anyone who refuses or fails to pay rent pursuant to a lease agreement forfeits all rights to occupy the dwelling house or other building or land. A tenant is guilty of a misdemeanor if he willfully refuses to vacate and surrender possession to the landlord after receiving a 10-day written notice to vacate. Upon conviction, the tenant is fined up to $25 for each offense. Each day the tenant willfully and unnecessarily holds the dwelling or other building or land after the expiration of notice to vacate constitutes a separate offense (ACA § 18-16-101).
Anyone who interferes with, entices away, knowingly employs, or induces a renter to break a lease agreement by leaving the leased premises before the expiration of his contract may be charged with, and convicted of, enticing a renter away. The penalty for this offense is $25 to $500. In addition, the person is liable to the landlord for all contractual advances made by him to the renter and for all sustained damages (ACA § 18-16-104).
North Carolina. A tenant is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if, during or after his tenancy, he willfully and unlawfully demolishes, destroys, defaces, injures, or damages the landlord's tenement house, uninhabited house, or other outhouse by removing parts, burning, or otherwise destroying it (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-11).
Any tenant who willfully, wrongfully, and with intent to defraud the landlord gives up possession of rented or leased premises to anyone other than his landlord is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (N.C.GS § 42-1).
Arkansas. Any tenant who willfully holds over after the termination of a lease term and after 30 days written notice to vacate must pay to the landlord or property owner double the yearly rent (ACA § 18-16-106).
Florida. If a tenant holds over and continues in possession of all or part of a dwelling unit after the expiration of the rental agreement and without the landlord's permission, the landlord may recover double the amount of rent due for the period during which the tenant refuses to surrender possession (FSA Ch. 83.58).
Missouri. A tenant who gives written notice of his intention to quit leased premises at a specified time and then fails to do so is liable to the landlord for double the rent (MRS § 441.100).
Wisconsin. If a tenant remains in possession without the landlord's consent after expiration of a lease or termination of a tenancy, the landlord may recover damages suffered because of the failure of the tenant to vacate within the time required. At a minimum, the landlord may recover twice the rental value apportioned on a daily basis for the time the tenant remains in possession. “Rental value” means the amount for which the premises might reasonably have been rented, but not less than the amount actually paid or payable by the tenant for the prior rental period, and includes the money equivalent of any obligations undertaken by the tenant as part of the rental agreement, such as payment of taxes, insurance and repairs (WSA § 704.27).
Delaware. A landlord who obtains a judgment against a tenant for unlawful destruction of property may attach the tenant's wages to satisfy the judgment (DCA 25 § 5510).
Florida. A landlord who gives a tenant notice of his intent to terminate the tenant's lease because of intentional destruction, damage, or misuse of the landlord's property may petition the court for an injunction prohibiting the tenant from continuing the activity.
The court must grant the relief in conformity with the principles that govern the granting of injunctive relief from threatened loss or damage in other civil cases.
Evidence of a tenant's intentional destruction, damage, or misuse of the landlord's property in an amount greater than twice the value of security deposit or $300, whichever is greater, constitutes irreparable harm for the purposes of injunctive relief (FSA § 83.681).
Idaho. If a landlord or a tenant recovers damages for a forcible or unlawful entry in or upon, or detention of, any building or other tract of land, a court may enter judgment for three times the amount of actual damages (IC § 6-317).
Maine. A landlord may file a petition to protect his rental property or tenants from threatened harm by another tenant. The landlord may seek a temporary order if his rental property is in immediate and present danger of suffering substantial damage as a result of a tenant's actions. Additional injunctive relief may be granted enjoining the defendant from damaging the landlord's or another tenant's property or from threatening, assaulting, molesting, confronting or otherwise disturbing the peace of the landlord, the landlord's employee or agent, or any tenant (MRSA 710 § 6030-A).
Minnesota. A tenant who abandons all or part of a building that contains plumbing, water, steam, or other pipes that might freeze between November 15th and the following April 15th is guilty of a misdemeanor if he does not give the landlord three-days advance notice (MSA § 504.08).
Texas. A tenant is liable if he (1) removes a battery from a smoke detector without immediately replacing it with a working battery or (2) knowingly disconnects or intentionally damages a smoke detector, causing it to malfunction. The landlord may obtain a judgment against the tenant for damages caused by his action (TCA Title 8 §92.2611).
Arkansas. All property a tenant leaves in and about leased premises after termination of a lease agreement is considered abandoned and the landlord may dispose of it as he sees fit, without recourse by the tenant (ACA § 18-16-108).
Wyoming. Upon regaining lawful possession of a rental unit following termination of the rental agreement, the owner may immediately dispose of any trash or property the owner reasonably believes to be hazardous, perishable or valueless and abandoned. The property owner must give the tenant written notice of any property left on the premises and state that it will be disposed of seven days from the date notice was served (WSA § 1-21-1210).
Arizona. Landlords have a lien on, and may seize, tenants' property placed or used on the leased premises until the rent is paid, unless the property is exempt by law. If the tenant fails to allow the landlord to take possession of such property, the landlord may bring an action to obtain possession and may hold or sell it to recover the rent. The lien does not secure the payment of rent accruing after a tenant dies or files bankruptcy (ARS § 33-362).
Florida. When a tenant deposits funds into the court's registry and the landlord is in actual danger of losing the premises or facing other personal hardship resulting from the loss of the rental income, the landlord may ask the court to disburse all or part of the funds or to schedule a prompt final hearing. The court must advance the cause on the calendar. The court may, after preliminary hearing, award all or any portion of the funds on deposit to the landlord or may proceed immediately to a final resolution (FSA § 83.61).
Hawaii. If a tenant unequivocally indicates by words or deeds his intent not to honor the tenancy before occupancy, he will be liable to the landlord for the lesser of:
(1) all moneys deposited with the landlord;
(2) one month's rent at the rate agreed upon in the rental agreement;
(3) all rent accrued from the agreed date for the tenancy to commence until the dwelling unit is re-rented at the fair rental, the difference between the fair rent and the rent agreed to in the prior rental agreement, reasonable costs, and a reasonable commission for re-renting the unit (HRS § 521-70).
Iowa. Landlords may retain all or a portion of a tenant's rental deposit to recover expenses incurred during any action for possession caused by the tenant's bad faith failure to surrender and vacate the premises upon noncompliance with the rental agreement and notification of such noncompliance (ICA § 562A.12).
New Hampshire. Allows a landlord to make a claim for an award of unpaid rent in a writ of summons for possession of rented premises and expands the district court's jurisdiction during while a case is on appeal to the Supreme Court for the purposes of collecting rent (N.H. § 540:13).
North Carolina. A landlord may collect rent due when he knows of illegal acts involving the tenant that subject him to immediate eviction without the collection constituting a waiver of the alleged defaults (N.C. G S § 42-73).
Oklahoma. A landlord has a lien upon that part of the tenant's property that is closest in value to the amount of the debt owed. The lien is against property in the rental unit at the time notice was given. It may cover the proper charges the tenant owes and the cost of enforcing the lien, with the right to possession of the property until the debt obligation is paid. The lien is secondary to the claim of any prior bona fide holder of a chattel mortgage or to the rights of a conditional seller of such property, other than the tenant.
“Property” means any baggage or other property the tenant owns, except tools, musical instruments or books the tenant uses in any trade or profession, family portraits and pictures, clothes, prosthetic or orthopedic appliances, hearing aides, glasses, tissues, washing machines, vaporizers, refrigerators, food, cooking and eating utensils, other appliances the tenant personally uses to protect his health, a baby bed, or any other items used for the personal care of babies (OSA § 41-133).
Texas. A landlord may recover actual damages of one month's rent plus $500 from any tenant who withholds rents, causes repairs to be performed, or makes unlawful rent deductions for repairs. The landlord must first provide the tenant with written notice of the illegality of the rent withholding or proposed repairs (TCA Title 8 § 92.058).
A tenant may not withhold payment of any portion of the last month's rent on grounds that the security deposit is security for unpaid rent. Any tenant doing so is presumed to have acted in bad faith and is liable to the landlord for an amount equal to three times the rent wrongfully withheld and the landlord's reasonable attorney's fees (TCA Title 8 § 92.108).