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Woman questions why she must pay rent on damaged apartment

One of the advantages to renting in Raleigh is that one is not burdened with the responsibilities that come with homeownership. If and when damage occurs to a property, it is the responsibility of the owner to address it, not any tenants that may occupy it. However, people typically tend to assign priority to tasks that affect them directly, and thus may look for reasons to justify putting off other matters. A property owner may rush to correct any issues that affect the home or building he or she lives or works in, while dealing with problems at other properties in a less timely manner. Yet in such a scenario, can an owner then expect tenants to still be obliged to honor a lease agreement? 

That is the very question a Tennessee woman is asking after being uprooted from her apartment after the pipes burst. After assessing the damage, the complex managers claimed that the unit was still livable, and thus asked her to continue to pay rent. She contends, however, that the water damage has destroyed the apartment's floors. She continues to question why she is being required to pay anything even after having come to an agreement to pay rent up through the expedited end of her lease. 

Is subletting a good idea?

If you are leasing a house or apartment in North Carolina and your company transfers you halfway across the country prior to the end of your lease, subletting your residence may be a good way to avoid losing your security deposit and possibly having to pay additional penalties for breaking your lease. However, it also can be fraught with dangers if you fail to do it properly.

As RentLingo.com explains, subletting a/k/a subleasing is done by means of a legally binding written contract between you and the sublessee whereby he or she rents your place from you even though it is still in your name until your underlying lease terminates. Since you are the person who ultimately will be held accountable for any damages or other problems that occur during the remainder of your lease, subleasing is a serious decision that you should not make lightly.

Do I have to pay my subcontractor?

Running your own contracting business in North Carolina is both exhilarating and rewarding. You deal with many people who have a variety of skills, and you work together to see a project to its completion. However, you probably can't remember a project where there hasn't been some problem. Whether a minor setback or a major conflict, as the contractor, it is your responsibility to resolve the issue and keep the project on schedule.

Most of the subcontractors you work with take pride in their craft and the reputations of their businesses. However, you may find yourself working with someone who does not seem as committed to quality as you or your client. Of course, pay is a universal incentive, and you may wonder if you have the right to withhold pay from a subcontractor who doesn't perform as you expected.

What maintenance and repairs is my landlord obligated to provide?

When you enter into a rental agreement in North Carolina, you should be able to expect the property owner or manager to meet certain landlord obligations. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a landlord must ensure that a home, as well as common areas, are habitable and provide a safe environment for the occupants.

First and foremost, the landlord should meet all legal housing codes. Even if you, as a tenant, have agreed to let a few things slide, the landlord must comply as it is mandatory by law. He or she should make any repairs that need to be done to keep the place up to code within a reasonable amount of time from when you send written notification of the issue. What is reasonable depends on the nature and severity of the maintenance issue.

A few things to consider when signing a construction contract

If you are about to start a construction project on your home, you will eventually be presented with a contract to sign. Construction contracts can be works of beauty that protect your best interests and keep your project running smoothly, or they can be massive headaches that are full of disputes. Some homeowners sign lengthy contracts without even bothering to read them, but this is a huge mistake.

Construction contracts frequently skew in favor of the contractor, but that doesn't have to be the case for you. Before you sign any legal documents, you should think carefully about the details to include. These are a few important things that you should consider before you decide to sign a construction contract.

Can a landlord keep my security deposit?

For many renters in North Carolina, coming up with a security deposit along with the first month's rent is difficult. It is a lot of money to hand over at one time, so it is natural to wonder what the landlord does with it. It is also natural to want it all back when you move out.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission explains that most landlords require a security deposit to cover any damages, accidental or intended, to the property during a lease period. Property owners/landlords and rental agents they may use to manage a property must follow the guidelines established by the North Carolina Tenant Security Deposit Act.

The next step when you've been stiffed

Despite inevitable glitches with obtaining supplies and building materials, you completed the project on time and are rather proud of the work your company did. You may have even allowed the customer to make last minute changes that were inconvenient for you but satisfied the client. Perhaps you hoped this would help you build a positive reputation and a repeat customer.

However, day after day you check your account for payment, and it is not there. You are watching your account balance dwindling while you wait for the customer to pay for the work you did, but weeks have passed since you mailed the invoice, and you are starting to wonder if you will ever get your money.

Understanding a commercial lease

A commercial lease can be very complex in North Carolina or any other state. Start-up entrepreneurs and other business owners usually lease the property where they do business rather than owning it because the cost is lower. As FindLaw explains, unlike most residential leases, commercial leases have negotiable terms since each one is tailored to the needs and desires of the particular landlord and tenant.

Other ways in which a commercial lease is different from a residential lease include the following:

  • Fewer legal protections exist because business people are presumed to have greater knowledge about leases than the typical residential lessee.
  • Lease terms are varied and also negotiable.
  • The lease length normally is for several years, rather than for a single year as is common with residential leases.

What are my rights when my landlord won't fix HVAC or plumbing?

As a renter in North Carolina, you rely on your landlord to repair any plumbing or HVAC problems as soon as possible. But the truth is, some landlords do, and some of them do not. If you have ever rented a home or apartment, you probably know how frustrating it is to have to wait for your landlord to take care of such a problem. It is even more frustrating when they do not.

According to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, landlords are required to repair and maintain heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and similar utilities and equipment, including appliances. When repairs are needed, it falls to the tenant to notify the landlord, in writing, and repairs are to be made promptly. In emergencies, tenants themselves can arrange for immediate repairs; emergencies include events such as electrical problems that are a safety hazard, loss of heat in winter or leaks that could damage the property.

Proving bad faith

As has been detailed previously on this blog, construction contracts cannot be terminated unilaterally unless they contain some sort of termination for convenience clause. Many of the clients that we here at the Triangle Law Group have worked with in the past often feel handcuffed by such clauses. To avoid the same predicament, you may think that all you need to do is ensure your contracts do not contain them. However, a majority of public agencies in Raleigh insist upon them, and the law often provides the government with latitude when choosing to exercise them. 

You may not be left completely holding the bag should a government partner choose to terminate your contract. You are typically entitled to collect on the value of work you have already done as well as the expense that comes from closing out the contract. You may, however, be able to collect damages for breach of contract even if yours contained a termination for convenience clause. You simply need to prove that your government partner negotiated and operated in bad faith. 

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