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Tenant Rights Relating To Lead Poisoning

 

When you become a tenant, you enter into a legally binding agreement with your landlord. Your agreement with the property owner can be written or it can be a verbal understanding and both are acknowledged in courts.

What the courts will never accept is ignorance. As a renter, you need to know your rights. You are responsible for seeking out this information and/or identifying the people who can educate you on your rights.

Monroe County has many resources to assist you with this process. The following community resources can answer specific questions and give you advice based on your individual needs/circumstances:

Tenant education programs:

  • Housing Council, 546-3700
  • Monroe County Legal Assistance Corp., 325-2520
  • Legal Aid Society, 232-4090

For more information on the above programs, please contact the Pediatric Social Worker for the Lead Poisoning Prevention and Treatment Center at (585) 922-3983.

As a tenant, both you and your landlord have certain responsibilities regarding the repair and maintenance of the apartment. The following information applies to all tenants with written or verbal leases:

Warranty of Habitability:

You have a right to live in an apartment that is safe and is in satisfactory condition.

Landlord's responsibilities:

Your landlord must make all necessary repairs.

Your landlord must make sure the rental property meets the Warranty of Habitability standards.

Tenant's responsibilities:

You must notify the landlord of problems in writing (keep a copy for your records).

You must contact city inspectors, who can verify and document code violations.

If your landlord fails to repair:

Seek legal advice from a lawyer before considering any of the following ideas:

Repair and deduct:

Doing the requested repair work yourself and deducting the cost from the next month's rent.

The burden of proof is on you to show that you have made many attempts to reach an agreement with the landlord. There are a series of steps to take in order to successfully document and prove this. To find out what these steps are and to learn any other important information you may need to know, please consult with a lawyer first.

Rent withholding:

Refusing to pay the rent until the repair work is completed by your landlord.

If you pursue this option, you will be expected to go to court. You will also be expected to have the rent money. If you spend the rent money or fail to bring it to court, the courts will rule in favor of your landlord. Again, discuss your case with a lawyer before considering the above action.

If you decide to move and have a written lease or have lived at your current address for at least 30 days, then there are certain steps you need to take in order to terminate your lease legally.

Moving at end of lease:

If you want to move when your lease is up, you do not have to give the landlord a reason why you do not want to renew the lease. You must, however, give your landlord "proper notice."

The landlord also has the right not to renew your lease and does not have to give a reason why.

Proper Notice:

Whether you have a written or verbal lease, you must give your landlord "proper notice" of your intent to move.

Year to Year Lease:

"Proper notice" is defined by your landlord, so be sure to ask what their policy is before signing a lease.

Month to Month Lease:

The standard policy is to provide your landlord with 30 days advanced notice prior to the month you want to move (for example, if you wanted to move December 1, you would need to let your landlord know you're moving no later than October 31).

Moving when lease is not over:

If your lease is not up, but you wish to move, you may try the following:

·        Assignment transfer: This is when a landlord releases you from the contract/lease without future liability.

·        Subletting: When a landlord allows another person to move into your apartment to finish out your original lease. You still have the ultimate responsibility and liability for the apartment until the lease is officially up.

Eviction by landlord:

Eviction is when your landlord wants you to move out when your lease is not up or when he has not given you 30 days notice to move (for month to month leases). Your landlord must go to court to evict you. If your landlord starts the legal eviction process, you will be served two court papers:

Notice of Petition:

The Notice of Petition will tell you the date, time, and place your court date has been scheduled.

Petition:

The Petition will explain why your landlord is taking you to court.

Never ignore these court orders. If you do, the judge will have little reason not to give your landlord legal eviction papers, which will force you to move out. To avoid this, immediately contact the Legal Aid Society's Tenant Advocacy Program at 232-4090 and set up an appointment.

It is not necessary to appear in court with a lawyer. If you go to court without one, you should appear at the court house early, look presentable, and be ready to rationally explain and prove to the judge why you should not have to move. Remember, your landlord must go to court, win, and be given a court order by the judge before he can legally evict you.

Warrant of Eviction:

If the court finds in favor of your landlord, your landlord will be given a "Warrant of Eviction." Your landlord can not make you move without serving you the "Warrant of Eviction."

Illegal Eviction:

It is illegal for your landlord to do any of the following to make you move:

  • Move your personal property out of the apartment.
  • Change the locks or remove the doors.
  • Turn your heat, electricity, and/or water off

These actions are illegal and you should call the police if they occur.

If you have questions or want more information, please contact the Pediatric Social Worker for the Lead Poisoning Prevention and Treatment Center at 585-922-3983.