5 Things Your Landlord Should Never, Ever Tell You To Do

updated Nov 9, 2022
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To live in peace and harmony, you need boundaries. You know this. Your roommate knows this. Your next-door neighbor, who keeps asking if you could just water her plants, walk her dog, and sign for her packages, could definitely use some brushing up on this.  But when it comes to establishing good boundaries Rocket Lawyer CEO. Notice to vacate, and rental termination laws vary based on where you live, but a landlord is typically required to give you notice anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on circumstance.

For evictions, you may receive only a handful of days to a couple of weeks to move, but many states require a sheriff to provide the final notice or that the notice be sent via official mail. 

“The landlord telling a tenant to ‘get out’ is not sufficient notice under any state law,” Moore says. 

2. ‘Don’t plan on having children if you live here.’ 

Familial status is a protected class in the Fair Housing Act, explains Jeremy Hudia, an Ohio-licensed attorney with experience in landlord and tenant issues. That means landlords — some of whom worry about kids being noisy or messy — can’t discriminate based on whether you have kids or plan to in the future.

Other out-of-bounds questions prohibited by the Fair Housing Act could be along the lines of, “Where do you go to church?” or “Where’s your family originally from?”

3. ‘Repair it yourself.’ 

It’s illegal for landlords to ask their tenants to make major repairs on a property, like repairing steps, handrails, or a porch. 

“First, the tenant may not have the skills to do a proper job, and second, the liability of the landlord increases exponentially if he or she has an unlicensed person do work that can result in an injury to the tenant or a guest,” says Robert L. Cain, a property management expert and author of “Get it Rented.” 

Depending on your lease and area tenant laws, your landlord may be required to complete minor repairs for you, too. If they are not responsible and you don’t feel you have the skills to complete the task or the funds to hire a professional, Cain says to try telling your landlord that you don’t have the competence to do the work safely or correctly. 

4. ‘Can I store my tools in the garage?’ 

You should have exclusive control of the premises that are described in the lease, explains Matthew J. Kidd, a Boston attorney who handles landlord-tenant disputes in his practice. That means your landlord should not be trying to keep a portion of your storage unit or garage or storage space to store their tools or other personal items unless specified in the lease, Kidd explains.

5. ‘I’ll stop by when I want because I own the property.’

“Landlords do not have unlimited access to premises they rent out,” Hudia says. But exactly how much access they have varies by state. (Here’s a good chart that outlines state laws as they pertain to landlord access for rental properties).

Your landlord may attempt to enter the premises to perform maintenance or conduct legitimate inspections, Hudia says. But, in general, random check-ins are a no-no. Also, your lease may have guidelines on when it’s acceptable for your landlord to access your property, including how much notice they should give you. 

The bottom line: While your landlord may own the property, you’re paying to rent it out, and it’s important to know your renter rights and assert them.