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Tenant Rights When A Landlord Is Imprisoned

Knowing your rights as a tenant is important to you just like the rights of your landlords are to them. However, many tenants only care about their basic rights thinking that as long as they pay the rent and they follow the rules, everything will be all right. Then when something unexpected happens, the tenants start to get confused. They become left in the dark, clueless as to what to do.

This time we will take for example, when your landlord goes to prison. If your landlord does not treat you fairly, you could have leaped for joy upon hearing the news. But be informed that going to jail does not void the rights of your landlord over his or her ownership of the property. Unless proven guilty (for whatever deed) without reasonable doubt, or ordered by the court, they will remain your landlord.

What Will Happen if The Landlord Goes to Jail

First it is important to understand the difference between getting detained and going to jail, being detained and being imprisoned. Detention is temporary and lasts only for a short period of time. The detainee can settle a bail or undergo a different legal procedure to be free. Going to a jail means that the landlord will serve a sentence no longer than a year. Getting imprisoned means the person must serve the sentence according to what the law mandates. It lasts more than a year. When your landlord goes to prison, it could mean that your landlord will be gone for a long time. 

Assuming that the landlord lives alone and has no spouse or relative to manage the property on his or her behalf during imprisonment, a certain body, such as the local government or the bank, will freeze the property. The same thing goes for the landlord’s bank account. As a tenant you have the right to be informed about these things. You have the right to be notified about the actions of these governing bodies. 

Consequently, you have the right to stay in the property until you find another place to move to. This should appear in your notification. Nobody cannot tell you to move out without giving you time to prepare. In cases in which the landlord is still paying for mortgage, the bank will most likely want the property to be vacated immediately. You must still be warned about this action, though. Also it is common practice for banks to pay the tenants so they can move out easily.
In certain cases wherein the landlord still pays for the mortgage, the rent increases. This is because the payment for mortgage must be met or must be surpassed. If the finance company or the bank does not receive this payment, expect that you will be evicted by foreclosure. To prevent this from happening, inform the company so that they know what happened. This way, you will be warned about the foreclosure and will be paid to move out. But take note, this does not apply to all states. 

If your landlord is detained and further legal actions are yet to be done, you should still pay your rent. If you do it through depositing the amount in your landlord’s bank account, you can do so until the bank closes it. If you used to hand your payment to your landlord in cold cash, do not spend it for something else. Keep it so that when someone looks for it, you can say that you have the payment. You may be charged for not paying your rent so make sure that you do not overlook this matter.

Further Thoughts

It is important to note that laws vary per state or country. To know the tenant rights when a landlord is imprisoned, it is recommended to consult a lawyer. Nothing can bring enlightenment to you better than a legal professional. And before signing a contract or entering an agreement with the landlord, make sure that you know him or her well enough. You can perform a landlord check just like the way landlords perform a tenant check. Keep in mind that the landlord has rights too and no matter how dire the situation is, you should respect them the way you want the landlord to respect your rights.

This post is from Endre Rex-Kiss, a small business advocate and multimedia junkie. He is also an occasional guest blogger and freelance copywriter, this time representing FidelisAM, a Buffalo based company providing tenant checks and employee screenings. Follow his rants on Twitter.


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