Landlords have a vested interest in protecting their properties. While it is understandable that your landlord may want to restrict what activities you can do in your rental to achieve this goal, sometimes he or she can go too far. Knowing your rights as a tenant can prevent your landlord from making unreasonable demands or wrongfully evicting you from the premises for not adhering to rules he or she has no right to enact.
Here's what you need to know about your landlord's right to restrict activities in your rental:
Tenants Have a Right to Privacy
Almost every state has laws protecting a tenant's right to peaceful and lawful possession of a rental residence free from unreasonable disturbances and with the expectation of a fair amount of privacy. Typically, these laws regulate when and for what reason a landlord may enter the rental property.
For example, in Alabama, landlords must give tenants two days notice before entering the rental unit.
However, these laws also prevent landlords from making rules that restrict tenants' personal activities in the rental unit. For instance, landlords cannot require children to have their own bedrooms separate from each other or their parents or stop kids from doing activities that are normal for children such as running or shouting.
Landlords also cannot tell you when to cook, take a shower, use electricity, or otherwise regulate normal household activities.
When Landlords Do Have a Say
On the other hand, landlords can make reasonable demands that are designed to protect the other tenants' quiet enjoyment of their units. For instance, the landlord can stipulate that you cannot play loud music after a certain time or that you cannot smoke in the rental because these are nuisances that can affect other people around you or damage the rental unit.
Landlords also have a say in whether or not overnight guests are allowed and for how long. However, the restriction must be written in your lease and it must be reasonable. For instance, the landlord is within his or her bounds to say you can only have guests stay over 4 or 5 times a month. Requiring you to register each person's name at the rental office for each stay, however, would be an invasion of privacy.
Dealing with an Overly Attached Landlord
Possibly the best thing you can do is carefully screen the landlord before signing a lease and moving into the property. Talk to other tenants about what the landlord is like. Do a search online for reviews of the property and owner or manager. If it seems like the person doesn't respect boundaries, go elsewhere.
If the landlord begins making unreasonable demands (e.g. you can't cook after a certain hour), diplomatically remind the person that those demands are not legal, and that any changes to the lease must be made in writing and with your consent. Landlords are not allowed to change a lease without tenants' permission; otherwise, they must wait until the current lease ends to write in new rules.
While you'll want to confront your landlord about privacy violations, always put your objections in writing. Either submit a letter of complaint to the person or follow up your verbal conversation with an email or note stipulating what you talked about. If you sue the person in court, you'll need this as evidence of wrongdoing.
If your landlord becomes particularly bothersome or attempts to evict you for nonsensical reasons, connect with an attorney who can help you stop the eviction or recover compensation for damages. To learn more, contact a company like Law Offices Of Doonan & Doonan Inc.