Atlanta Property Management Blog

7 Important Rights That Landlords Have

System - Thursday, January 12, 2023

Landlords have rights, even though they sometimes seem like the bare minimum. Let’s briefly discuss some of those rights.

1. The right to tell a tenant how clean to keep the house

A landlord has the right to ensure a certain level of cleanliness in the rental unit. It’s within a landlord’s right to require that tenants remove garbage regularly, clean pet mess, and prevent unhygienic conditions from attracting pests and vermin. This is why it’s a good idea to have a cleanliness clause in the rental agreement. 

Of course, it’s not within a landlord’s jurisdiction to say how often to vacuum the carpets or clean the bathtub. However, you have a right to tell a tenant to keep the house clean. 

2. Landlord rights when a tenant destroys property

As a landlord, you have the right to inspect the property if you suspect a tenant is trashing the place. Of course, you must give proper notice in line with state laws. During a thorough inspection, you can document the evidence and take pictures. You can then decide on the best action to take. 

Destroying property is a lease agreement violation. Therefore you have the right to start an eviction action. This involves serving the delinquent tenant with a “cure or quit” notice in writing. If the tenant hasn’t repaired the damage after a reasonable amount of time, you can file for eviction. After the tenant vacates the property, you have the right to withhold part of all of the security deposit to pay for repairs. 

3. The right to screen tenants

The landlord reserves the right to screen potential tenants before signing lease agreements with them. While screening, the landlord confirms the character of the prospective tenant. Then, they decide whether they will sign the rental agreement. 

However, it is not permissible to base a decision on any discriminatory criteria. So, it is vital to check what the Fair Housing Act says about discriminating against any tenant seeking accommodation.

A landlord has the right to assess potential tenants based on the following criteria:

  • A physical interview or meeting to assess the prospective tenant’s suitability.
  • Check their identity.
  • Check their credit score and history.
  • Get references from previous landlords and employers.
  • Verify whether they have a criminal record. However, state laws may prohibit this check. 

4. Right to collect rent and security deposits.

The landlord has the right to set the rental price and security deposits. However, state laws may limit the amount of security deposit you can charge. 

The tenant must pay the security deposit and a month’s rent in advance upon signing the rental agreement. The rent, in this case, refers to all the fees stated in the lease agreement. These fees include utility bills (if stated), taxes on the property, and fees for keeping a pet.

Landlords have the right to request a security deposit in line with state laws. This money is a kind of insurance against damage or unpaid rent. The landlord can use the security deposit to pay for costs to repair damage caused by a tenant. 

However, at the end of the lease agreement, a landlord generally must return the security deposit to the tenant. 

5. Right to evict tenants for lease violations

Tenants have obligations to the landlord while using their property. They include:

  • Obligation to pay rent: In this context, rent refers to all forms of payment stipulated in the lease agreement. Therefore, the tenant must pay these fees as they are required. Non-payment of rent is a lease violation. 
  • Not altering the property’s structure: The tenant can only modify the property if the lease agreement allows for this. For instance, they might repaint walls and install shelves only if the lease allows it. However, it is not acceptable to increase a room’s size by removing walls or making structural alterations. Also, a tenant must not cause damage to the property.
  • Illegal activities: A tenant must not use the property for unlawful activity.

Violation of any of these rules or failure to comply with them gives landlords the right to serve an eviction notice to “cure or quit.”

For example, suppose a tenant fails to pay rent. In that case, the landlord has the right to start an eviction process. This would involve proving to a judge that the tenant is in violation of the lease agreement. Then, if the tenant fails to make the rent payment in full in the specified time, they can be evicted. 

6. Right to access the property

Landlords can access their property even after renting it out. The main clause in this is that they must give prior notice to the tenants before coming. Most states in the U.S. demand a 24-hour notice, while some ask even higher. If the landlord violates this clause, the tenants can sue them for privacy invasion.

However, in emergency cases, the landlord can come in without a notice to secure his property from losses. 

7. Right to make a “moving-out” inspection

The landlords have the right to inspect the property whenever the tenant notifies them of their desire to leave the property. Once they receive the notice, they can inspect the property for any damage that is more than just regular “wear and tear.” 

Regular “wear and tear” is superficial damage to the property due to day-to-day living. However, it doesn’t include severe damage to the property, fixtures, or fittings. For example, there is a difference between surface scratches on a baseboard and a large hole in drywall. 


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