Rental rights: Fight back if your landlord isn't playing by the rules

Security deposits and breaking leases are two of the major rental problems you've been letting me know about.

If your landlord isn't playing by the rules, fight back.

FINDING A GOOD RENTAL

But first, finding a good place to rent may prevent some of these problems later.

So start your search by checking the landlord's name or apartment complex for complaints online.  

Ken Volk, with the Arizona Tenants Advocates says you must see the unit you're renting.

"Was the landlord or agent willing to give an advance showing of the actual rental unit prior to signing of the lease?  If not, don't pay and don't commit to the property.  If so, obtain a written assurance that irregularities will be corrected.  A landlord unwilling to give such assurance in the beginning will likely not repair during the lease term," Volk says.

BED BUGS

Also, bed bugs are a big problem.

Volk advises "ask the landlord if the premises were, or are, infested with bedbugs. If either answer is in the affirmative, walk away.  Regardless, if the tenant notices being bitten shortly after move-in, call a private professional exterminator to confirm, in writing, the presence of bedbugs. Do not rely on the input or evaluation of an exterminator retained by the landlord, because it cannot be trusted or will not back up the tenant when needed later."

SECURITY DEPOSITS

To get the security deposit back, make sure to take video and pictures of how you left the unit. You want pictures of the appliances, the carpet and as many areas as you can get.

Be there during the walk through. Landlords have 14 business days to get your money back to you.  And they have to itemize anything they deduct from the amount.

BREAKING LEASES

Breaking your lease: It's a tough one. If conditions can be proved unhealthy, unsafe or your lease isn't being followed, write a letter to the landlord with a date when repairs have to be done, or the lease terminated.

If the landlord doesn't cooperate, you may have to settle your issues in court.

Read more about your tenant rights at the Arizona Attorney General's website.

Also, you can contact the Arizona Tenant's Advocates.

Email me with any consumer issues you want solved or "like" my Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

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