Common Tenant Mistakes

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If you avoid these mistakes, your experience as a tenant will be less stressful.

Many people do not know about their tenant rights. As a result, landlords or other tenants mistreat them and they do not know what to do about it. You are NOT POWERLESS against your landlord!

Many people do not know that if they sign a lease with other tenants, they are ALL "Jointly and Severally Liable." This means that each person who signs the lease is responsible for everything her/his roommate does. For example, if your roommate does not pay rent, you are as legally responsible for the rent as your roommate. The landlord is legally allowed to sue YOU for your roommate's mistakes. You are all individually and jointly responsible for fulfilling the conditions of the lease.

Many people do not read their leases carefully. As a result, they do not know what they are legally required to do in the lease, even though they have signed it. If the terms in the lease are not fulfilled (even by accident) a tenant might end up getting sued or evicted.

Many people do not keep their records. Tenants often throw away their lease or other important notices. You should KEEP EVERYTHING that your landlord sends to you or that you send to your landlord as a precaution in case you end up in court later.

Many people move into an apartment without making out a damage list with the landlord. If the landlord collects a Security Deposit from you, then you should make sure you complete a Damage List when you move in. Otherwise, you have no proof that a part of the apartment was damaged BEFORE you got there. If your landlord is a good liar, s/he could keep your security deposit and claim that you performed the damage. You may not be able to hold up your side of the argument in court; but if you have a damage list you are guaranteed proof that you did not perform the damage.

Many people do not notify their landlord of needed repairs. If something in your apartment needs to be repaired, it is YOUR legal responsibility to call the landlord and ask her/him to fix it.

Many people do not show up for eviction court. If you get an eviction notice and you do not show up for court on the date specified on the notice, you will be automatically evicted from your apartment! Many people do not know that they have a right to defend themselves in court. If you are being unfairly Evicted from your apartment, you MUST SHOW UP IN COURT to defend your side of the story or else you will automatically be evicted.

Reviewed August 2009