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Landlords and tenants both need to know their rights, says HCCI expert

It’s important for renters and landlords to know their rights when it comes to the relationship.

Sometimes, unfortunately, tenants think that they can withhold rent for various reasons, such as the lack of maintenance,” said Teresa Baker with Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. “That’s rarely ever true. They typically will be legally evicted if they go to court and say there was no maintenance, so I withheld rent.”

There are ways you can address maintenance issues at a rental.

“The way you address it is twofold,” said Baker. “You can either possibly terminate your lease with giving the landlord a 14 and 30 day notice, which gives him 14 days to make a good-faith effort to begin the process of addressing the issue. If he does nothing in 14 days, then the tenant can terminate their lease 30 days after their next rent paying date.”

Another good option, if you live in a city with a code enforcement department is to contact that department if there is a code violation. In cities without such a department, the 14 and 30 day notice is generally the best recourse. It’s likely a different situation for a renter with someone with a single property than it is with a large management company.

“If it’s an apartment building and the landlord owns several apartment buildings, he’s more matter-of- fact in the way he handles situations and he treats everybody the same. Mom and pop landlords who own a house or two, they are typically more willing to work with someone.”

A Kansas Landlords Handbook and Kansas Tenants Handbook is available online at http://hcci-ks.org/.

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