Tenant Law in South Dakota
In Watertown, South Dakota, relationships between tenants and landlords can sometimes become strained.
There are several rights and responsibilities that landlords and tenants have. It's important that each party is aware of their rights, and the rights of the other party. By knowing and respecting these rights, the risk of conflict should be reduced dramatically.
Landlord's Rights in Watertown, SD
First and foremost, landlords have a right to timely payment of rent from their tenants, at the agreed-upon rate. This, of course, imposes on tenants a duty to pay their rent in full, in a timely manner.
Additionally, landlords have a right to be compensated for damage a tenant causes to a rented unit, either intentionally or negligently. Landlords have a right to deduct repair costs from tenants' security deposits, unless the damage was caused by normal wear and tear, for which tenants are not responsible.
Tenant's Rights in Watertown, SD
The most basic right of a tenant is the right to a living space that's fit for human habitation. This is, after all, what they're paying the landlord to provide. Landlords in Watertown, South Dakota are under a legal duty to make sure that their apartments are habitable. There are several factors that are considered in determining if an unit is habitable or not, but, generally, an unit will not be deemed habitable if it lacks any of the following: running water, electricity, heat, and protection from the elements (such as proper insulation, and windows that close).
Additionally, tenants have rights to common areas that are free of physical obstructions, as well as serious health and safety hazards. Common areas are the places in apartment buildings and other residential complexes which every tenant can access, and include hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes. In Watertown, South Dakota, these areas must be kept in a safe condition, at the landlord's expense.
Tenants also have rights, under federal and South Dakota law, to not be victims of racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination in housing, whether they are renting or buying. Moreover, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on physical disabilities. They must also allow physically-disabled tenants to make reasonable modifications to the apartment to make it more accessible. However, the landlord can require tenants to remove those modifications and restore the property to its original condition once the tenant moves out.
Finally, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords usually must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Watertown, South Dakota Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to avoid conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Watertown, South Dakota attorney can help you protect your rights.