Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.
The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) regulates the relationship between residential landlords and tenants, and includes provisions regarding the duties of tenants and landlords and remedies for violations of those duties. With some statutory exceptions, the rental of a dwelling unit for living purposes is generally covered under the RLTA.
Duration and Termination of Tenancy.
A tenancy for a specified time, sometimes also called a lease, is deemed terminated at the end of the specified period. A tenant who terminates a lease prior to the end of the lease period is liable for rent until the end of the period, although the landlord is required to mitigate his or her damages by attempting to re-rent the unit at a fair rental price. Alternatively, premises may be rented for an indefinite time, from period to period, or month to month. Such a tenancy is automatically renewed for another period until terminated by either the landlord or the tenant by giving at least 20 days' written notice prior to the end of any of the months or periods of tenancy. Landlords planning a change of use or demolition or substantial renovation must provide 120 days' notice.
The RLTA specifies the remedies available to a tenant for a landlord's violation of his or her duties. Generally the tenant must provide the landlord with written notice and a reasonable opportunity to fix or comply with the duty, the timeframe for which varies depending upon the type of problem. If a landlord includes prohibited provisions in a rental agreement, the tenant may recover statutory damages of up to $500 together with costs of suit.
If the tenant is in unlawful detainer status, a landlord may bring a court action to evict the tenant. A tenant is in unlawful detainer status when he or she:
Cause Required for Eviction, Refusal to Renew, and Termination of Tenancy.
Where the initial term of the tenancy is for one year, the tenancy may be terminated at the end of the first year upon 60 day's written notice. If a landlord does not give 60 day's notice, the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy until further agreement between the landlord and tenant.
A landlord may not evict, refuse to continue the tenancy, or terminate a periodic tenancy, except for 11 enumerated causes:
Notices must identify the facts and circumstances that support the cause or causes with specificity. With respect to any incidents alleged, and to the extent known and available to the landlord at the time the notice is issued, the landlord must identify the evidence he or she will rely upon; however, the landlord is allowed to present other evidence regarding the allegations within the notice where the evidence was unknown or unavailable at the time the notice was issued.
Where a tenant has permanently vacated for reasons other than termination by the landlord, and occupants co-resided with the tenant prior to and up to the tenant's vacation with the landlord's approval, the tenant must immediately apply or reapply as a prospective tenant. In the event that the occupant fails to immediately apply or the application is denied, the landlord may commence an unlawful detainer action. This new provision regarding occupants is not applicable to subsidized housing.
A landlord who removes a tenant or causes a tenant to be removed from a dwelling in violation of the section specifying exclusive causes and the landlord's responsibilities with respect to occupants shall be held liable to the tenant for wrongful eviction for the greater of 1) the tenant's economic and noneconomic damages or 2) four and one-half times the monthly rent, as well as reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. The existing statutory damages available for inclusion in the rental agreement of prohibited provisions is increased from $500 to two times the monthly rent.
Conforming Sections and Definitions.
Other sections are amended to reflect the new section providing the only causes cognizable under the RLTA:
The terms "immediate family," "subsidized housing," and "transitional housing" are defined in the RLTA.