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Alaska

Welcome to the Legal Pages Here on Underground Landlord for the Great state of Alaska!

The Landlord & Tenant Act: what it means to you

 

When a landlord and tenant get along well, things are better all around. Dealing with unhappy tenants is a lot of trouble for a landlord, and few tenants want the inconvenience and expense of moving simply because they cannot get along with their landlords. Yet, landlords and tenants frequently have problems. Sometimes, landlords do not make repairs or unfairly keep back security deposits. Sometimes, tenants damage property or refuse to pay the rent. This publication briefly explains your responsibilities as a landlord or a tenant under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (AS 34.03.010 et seq., the “Landlord and Tenant Act”). It explains what a tenant needs to know when he or she is:

• Moving in:

• Living in a rental property:

• Moving out

What housing is covered by the act?

 

The Landlord and Tenant Act covers rental of a residence, such as an apartment, a mobile home, or a house. It does not apply to rooming houses, hotels or motels, temporary housing at a shelter or supportive housing program, or any type of commercial property.1 Tenants who receive a government housing subsidy or live in a government housing project may have rights in addition to those provided by state law. This publication does not cover those issues. Such tenants should check their lease agreements and may also wish to consult with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation or an attorney for specific advice

Links to Legal Pages Based on State

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Table of Contents

Moving In

Living In a Rental Property

Moving Out

  • Give plenty of notice!

    • How much notice is enough?

    • Notice is notice

    • How to deliver notice

  • Cleaning up and clearing out​

  • Damages

  • Returning the deposit

  • When the landlord keeps the deposit

  • Termination of tenancy

    • Termination for late rent​

    • Termination for deliberate infliction of substantial damage to the premises

    • Termination for illegal activity on the premises

    • Termination for failure to pay utility bills

    • Termination for breach of duties

    • Landlord’s termination of rental agreement by choice

    • Termination of mobile home tenancies

  • Termination for absence or abandonment​

    • When is it abandonment?​

    • Abandoned belongings

    • Holding a public sale

  • Serving notices to quit​

  • Foreclosure problems

  • Tenant protections after foreclosure

  • Lockouts, utility shutoffs and threats

  • Subsidized housing

  • Retaliation by the landlord

    • When it’s NOT retaliation​

  • If the tenant won’t move​

    • How FED cases work​

  • When a problem arises

    • Follow these suggestions​

  • Where to go for help​

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List of Counties in Alaska

  • Aleutians East Borough, AK

  • Anchorage Borough, AK

  • Bristol Bay Borough, AK

  • Denali Borough, AK

  • Fairbanks North Star Borough, AK

  • Haines Borough, AK

  • Juneau Borough, AK

  • Kenai Peninsula Borough, AK

  • Ketchikan Gateway Borough, AK

  • Kodiak Island Borough, AK

  • Lake and Peninsula Borough, AK

  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK

  • North Slope Borough, AK

  • Northwest Arctic Borough, AK

  • Sitka Borough, AK

  • Southeast Fairbanks Borough, AK

  • Yakutat Borough, AK

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The Landlord & Tenant Act: what it means to you

 

When a landlord and tenant get along well, things are better all around. Dealing with unhappy tenants is a lot of trouble for a landlord, and few tenants want the inconvenience and expense of moving simply because they cannot get along with their landlords. Yet, landlords and tenants frequently have problems. Sometimes, landlords do not make repairs or unfairly keep back security deposits. Sometimes, tenants damage property or refuse to pay the rent. This publication briefly explains your responsibilities as a landlord or a tenant under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (AS 34.03.010 et seq., the “Landlord and Tenant Act”). It explains what a tenant needs to know when he or she is:

• Moving in:

• Living in a rental property:

• Moving out

 

 What housing is covered by the act?

 

The Landlord and Tenant Act covers rental of a residence, such as an apartment, a mobile home, or a house. It does not apply to rooming houses, hotels or motels, temporary housing at a shelter or supportive housing program, or any type of commercial property.1 Tenants who receive a government housing subsidy or live in a government housing project may have rights in addition to those provided by state law. This publication does not cover those issues. Such tenants should check their lease agreements and may also wish to consult with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation or an attorney for specific advice

Definitions

 

Several important terms are used in this publication. This is what some of them mean:

  •  Dwelling unit, property or premises: the place that is rented, which could be a house, apartment, condo, mobile home, or mobile home park space.

  •  Landlord: the property owner or his agent, which could include either a licensed property manager or a resident manager.

  •  Property Manager: an individual licensed to practice real estate in Alaska who works on behalf of the property owner to rent, manage and safeguard a property.

  •  Resident Manager: an individual who resides on the property and manages it on behalf of the property owner or the licensed property manager.

  •  Tenant: any of the people who rent the dwelling.

  •  Damages: money claimed by, or ordered to be paid to, a person as compensation for loss or injury. It may mean the amount claimed by the landlord from the tenant’s security deposit based on the damages the landlord has incurred because of the tenant’s failure to comply with the obligations imposed under the Landlord and Tenant Act. Or it may mean the monetary compensation that a person wins in a lawsuit, such as the value of lost rent or the cost of repairing property damage (to a landlord), or the value of housing or utility services not provided (to a tenant).

  • Security Deposit: payment to a landlord or property manager by a tenant to ensure that the tenant will pay the rent due, will maintain the property, and will not damage it. Security deposits are held in trust by the owner or manager until the tenant moves out, and are then returned to the tenant or applied to damages and/or delinquent rent with an accounting to the tenant

  • Rental Agreement: means all agreements, written or oral, and valid rules and regulations adopted by the landlord, making up the terms and conditions for the use of the dwelling unit.

  • Lease: a contract which conveys the right to use and occupy property for a certain specified period of time in exchange for consideration, usually rent.

For precise legal definitions of many of the terms used in the Landlord and Tenant Act see AS 34.03.360

 

Common Rule of Law in Real Estate

In real estate law, real property (also known as realty, real estate, or immovable property) refers to property that is intrinsically linked to land. It also includes buildings, machines, and equipment attached to the land. In the United States, each State (with the notable exception of Louisiana) regulates and legally protects real estate primarily through common law and real estate law.

The common law and real estate law regulate the liability of an owner in regard to the safety of a third person party on their property. Within the common law, there are three different types of third parties that can be found on land. The liabilities associated for a landowner vary greatly depending on the status of the third person party. Contact real estate lawyers for legal advice and assistance.

 

Trespasser

 

A trespasser is defined in common law as a third person party that enters a property without the knowledge or invitation of a landowner for personal purposes. Landowners typically have no duty to warn adult trespassers of dangers on a property or to make their property safe for adult trespassers. Although the duty is lighter than for a licensee or an invitee, a landowner is responsible to ensure the safety of the property if the owner believes trespassers could be on the property, especially in the case of children.

In the case of child trespassers, the owner is held to a higher standard in protecting the child from harm by ensuring the safety the property. Properties that might boast features that would attract child trespassers, such as ponds or pools, are often required to ensure the safety of their property to a higher degree.

Licensee

A licensee is defined in common law as a third person party that is invited on to and remains on a property for any reason other than a commercial or business reason. Thus, a guest would be a licensee, and not an invitee. Licensees are protected more than trespassers, and the landowner owes a higher degree of duty in maintaining the safety of a property and warning licensees of the dangers on a property.

Property owners are often found liable under real estate law and common law for damage or harm to a licensee or a licensee's property if the owner neglected to ensure the safety of a known danger on the property, failed to inform the licensee of the dangers on a property, or if a licensee did not have a reasonable understanding or notice of the dangers on a property.

Invitee

An invitee is defined in common law as a third person party that is invited on to and remains on a property for business or commercial purposes that will benefit the owner of the property. These invitations could be either implicit or explicit. For example, "open" signs and open doors are both considered invitations for these purposes.

Invitees are protected with the highest regard and owners have the highest liability to this class of third person parties. If the risk of harm or damage for an invitee or an invitee's property is considered unreasonable and the unsafe conditions of the property are explicitly known and understood by the owner, the owner must protect the invitee from any harm or damage. Invitees can also be classified as public invitees in real estate law, where their presence is legitimized by the use of a land for a public purpose.

Get a written agreement:

 

Before a tenant moves in, the landlord and tenant must come to an agreement. It may be verbal or written, but written is best. Without written proof, even two honest people can later disagree on what was actually said. The written agreement may be called a “Rental Agreement,” a “Tenant Agreement,” or a “Lease.”

The agreement should include​

  • the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises;

  • the name and address of an owner of the premises, or a person authorized to act as an agent of the owner, for the purpose of service of process and receiving notices and demands from the tenant or the owner’s agent; and

  • he name and address of the tenant(s)

  • how many tenants and pets are to occupy the unit

  • who holds the deposit;

  • reasons the deposit or a portion of it may be retained by the landlord;

  • the amount to be paid for rent and deposits;

  • when, where, and how the rent is to be paid;

  • when the rent is considered delinquent, and what the penalty will be for late payment;

  • whether this is a month-to-month tenancy or a lease with a definite contract period;

  • who pays for utilities and what services are provided;

  • a list of prohibited equipment (snowmobiles, musical equipment, motorcycles, etc.);

  • a list of landlord and tenant repair and maintenance duties and who pays for them;

  • rules on subleasing or assignment of the property;

  • a premises condition statement and contents inventory;

  • disclosure of lead-based paint as applicable for units built prior to 1978 (as required by the federal Environmental Protection Act); and

  • any additional rules, covenants and regulations in place.

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Click the image above for more information regarding the Fair Housing Act which is what most states derive their discrimination laws from!

U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

3000 C Street, Suite 401

Anchorage, AK 99503

Phone: (907) 677-9800

TTY: (907) 677-9825

Website:

www.hud.gov/complaints

Moving In

Get a written agreement: Before a tenant moves in, the landlord and tenant must come to an agreement. It may be verbal or written, but written is best. Without written proof, even two honest people can later disagree on what was actually said. The written agreement may be called a “Rental Agreement,” a “Tenant Agreement,” or a “Lease.”

The agreement should include​

  • the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises;

  • the name and address of an owner of the premises, or a person authorized to act as an agent of the owner, for the purpose of service of process and receiving notices and demands from the tenant or the owner’s agent; and

  • he name and address of the tenant(s)

  • how many tenants and pets are to occupy the unit

  • who holds the deposit;

  • reasons the deposit or a portion of it may be retained by the landlord;

  • the amount to be paid for rent and deposits;

  • when, where, and how the rent is to be paid;

  • when the rent is considered delinquent, and what the penalty will be for late payment;

  • whether this is a month-to-month tenancy or a lease with a definite contract period;

  • who pays for utilities and what services are provided;

  • a list of prohibited equipment (snowmobiles, musical equipment, motorcycles, etc.);

  • a list of landlord and tenant repair and maintenance duties and who pays for them;

  • rules on subleasing or assignment of the property;

  • a premises condition statement and contents inventory;

  • disclosure of lead-based paint as applicable for units built prior to 1978 (as required by the federal Environmental Protection Act); and

  • any additional rules, covenants and regulations in place.

Late charges The Landlord and Tenant Act does not state whether landlords may assess late charges when the rent is late or NSF fees when a check is returned for insufficient funds. It maybe all right for the rental agreement to specify a small flat-rate late charge or NSF fee that reasonably approximates the landlord’s actual costs caused by the tenant’s failure to pay rent on time or writing a bad check. It may also be all right for the rental agreement to specify a reasonable percentage-per-day late charge. Such a charge is limited by the state usury law to an annual interest rate of a maximum of five percentage points above the Federal Reserve discount rate, or, if no precise rate is specified, 10.5%.3 Remember, no automatic late charge or NSF fee is legally enforceable, unless it has been agreed upon beforehand.

Resolving disputes A landlord and tenant can agree to mediation or binding arbitration to resolve disputes between them. If both parties want to mediate or arbitrate disputes, they should include in the rental agreement (or in an addendum to it) specific details of the types of disputes to be resolved in this way and the procedures to be followed

Understanding the agreement Rental agreements are normally prepared by the landlord or the landlord’s agent. It is very important that tenants make sure they understand all the terms of the agreement. Tenants should ask for an explanation of any section they do not understand, before signing the agreement

What to watch out for: Rental agreements cannot:

  • require the tenant or the landlord to waive any legal rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act

  • permit the landlord to get an “automatic” court judgment against the tenant (called a “confession of judgment”);6

  • require the tenant to agree to pay the landlord’s attorney fees;7

  • limit the liability of landlords or tenants when either has failed to meet their responsibilities.

  • make the tenant liable for rent even if the landlord fails to maintain the premises as required by law;9 or allow the landlord to take the tenant’s personal belongings

Standard form agreements Some standard form rental agreements have been written to conform to the laws of other states or are based on older versions of Alaska law. These forms may need to be changed before signing them. In addition to the illegal provisions already listed, any of the following statements should be removed from the agreement before signing it:

  • agreement to let the landlord come into the dwelling whenever he or she wants;

  • agreement to immediate eviction for nonpayment of rent;

  • agreement that the tenant will make all repairs;

  • release of the landlord from liability for accidents due to his or her neglect;

  • giving up of the tenant’s right to the return of the deposit; or

  • grant of a power of attorney to the landlord by the tenant, or to the tenant by the landlord.

Illegal provisions in the contract To remove illegal wording, draw a line in ink through any provision that is not legally binding. Both the landlord and tenant should initial the agreement next to each item that has been removed. Illegal provisions in an agreement are not enforceable against the tenant, even if both parties sign

Special rules for mobile home rentals Absent very specific exceptions, agreements between mobile home park operators and mobile home park tenants may not:

  • prohibit the tenant from selling his or her mobile home;

  • require the mobile home tenant to provide permanent improvements to park property;

  • require a fee to let the tenant sell or transfer the mobile home; or

  • require a fee to let the tenant set up or move a mobile home into or out of the park.

 

Mobile home park operators must give tenants a list of all capital improvements that will be required (such as skirting, utility hook-ups, and tie downs) before the tenant moves into the park.12 Park operators may specify the type of equipment required, but cannot require that it be purchased from a particular supplier or company

Unsigned or undelivered agreements Once the agreement has been carefully reviewed, both parties should sign it. The landlord must give the tenant a copy. If the landlord and the tenant agree to a rental agreement, and the landlord signs and delivers the agreement to the tenant but the tenant doesn’t sign it, the legal provisions of the agreement are nonetheless binding if the tenant moves in and begins paying rent. Likewise, if the tenant signs and delivers the agreement to the landlord but the landlord doesn’t sign it, the rental agreement is binding if the landlord accepts payment of rent without reservation from the tenant.

What is a lease? A lease is a rental agreement that specifies how long the tenant will stay in the property. If there is a lease, the landlord cannot raise the rent or evict the tenant during the period of the lease, unless the tenant breaks the terms of the lease, or the lease agreement provides for the increases. If the tenant decides to move during the term of the lease, the tenant is usually still responsible for the rent for the rest of the lease period, unless the dwelling can be subleased or re-rented earlier. (See sections on “Moving Prior to the End of a Lease” and “Subleasing,”) There may be times, however, when the tenant may move before the end of the lease and not be responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease.

What is a security deposit? Many landlords demand a security deposit before a tenant moves in. This deposit protects the landlord from financial loss if the tenant fails to pay the rent, causes damage to the property, or does not clean up properly when he or she leaves. Except for units renting for more than $2,000 per month, security deposits and prepaid rents may not total more than two months’ rent.15 A landlord may require an additional deposit, of up to one month’s rent, from a tenant who will be keeping a pet that is not a service animal.16 Sometimes a landlord asks for a nonrefundable application fee to place a prospective tenant on a waiting list for an apartment. If an application fee covers the landlord’s actual, reasonable costs for services performed (such as checking the applicant’s credit history), it is probably lawful. However, it is NOT lawful to charge a fee that becomes the security deposit if the tenant moves in, but is forfeited if the tenant decides not to take the unit. At most, such a tenant would be responsible for rent during the time it takes the landlord to find a replacement tenant, and for the actual costs (such as newspaper ads) of finding one

Where are deposits kept? Deposits and prepaid rent must be deposited by the landlord or the property manager in a trust account in a bank or savings and loan association, or with a licensed escrow agent. (Exceptions could be made in rural Alaska, if there is no bank in town and it would be impractical to bank the money.) A trust account can be any separate savings or checking account labeled “trust account” and used only for deposits and prepaid rents. A receipt should be written whenever the tenant pays a deposit or prepays rent. The landlord cannot mix prepaid rent and security deposit funds with other money. Although a landlord can keep the security deposits and prepaid rents from several tenants in a single account, each tenant’s funds are to be accounted for separately, and may not be refunded to another tenant, or applied to another tenant’s rent or damage obligations. Landlords are required to provide tenants with the terms and conditions under which prepaid rents or deposits (or any portion of those monies) might be withheld by the landlord. The additional “pet deposit” noted above is to be accounted for separately from the regular security deposit or prepaid rent and can be applied only to the amount of damage directly related to the pet.1

Can deposits earn interest? The Landlord and Tenant Act does not require that the trust account earn interest, but if the tenant’s deposit does earn interest, the tenant is entitled to the interest under general trust law principles, unless both parties have agreed otherwise. It is a good idea to specify in the rental agreement whether the deposit will earn interest, and if so, who gets the interest. If the property is managed by a licensed property manager, the interest on the tenant’s money in the trust account must go to the tenant, under the terms of the real estate license law, unless the tenant agrees in writing that the interest may go to the property owner. The property manager may not keep the interest.

When there’s a new owner.  When rental housing is sold, a new owner is responsible for refunding any security deposits and prepaid rents that may be owed to the tenants who move out after the ownership is transferred.21 Therefore, a buyer of rental property should make sure that the previous owner transfers all deposits and prepaid rents along with the property. If the previous owner makes a proper transfer of these funds and notifies the tenants of the sale of the dwelling unit, he is relieved of further responsibility. If not, the previous owner will still be responsible to the tenants for deposits and prepaid rents, even though the new owner is also responsible. When the property is sold at a foreclosure sale because the landlord has defaulted on his mortgage payments, the buyer (usually the lender) often treats the tenancy as terminated, and tries to disclaim responsibility for the tenant’s security deposit. Unless the landlord/seller has given the security deposits to the new owner, the landlord/seller remains liable for the security deposits.23 The issue of whether the buyer in a foreclosure sale is responsible for the tenants’ security deposits has not yet been decided by the courts.

Get a written inspection report An inspection report describes the condition of the property when the tenant moves in. It generally has two parts.

  • a “premises condition statement” describing the condition of the unit; and

  • a “contents inventory” itemizing any furnishings and describing their condition

Ordinarily, the landlord prepares the draft premises condition statement, then the landlord and tenant go through the premises together, writing down any additional damaged areas (such as scratches or burns), and then both landlord and tenant sign and date the revised version and keep a copy. But if the landlord does not prepare it, the tenant should do so, sign it, keep a copy, and give the original to the landlord for signature.

 

An accurate and thorough inspection report helps protect the interests of both landlords and tenants. Tenants, for example, can use it to prove that they were not responsible for damages that existed before they moved in. Landlords can also use it to establish when damage occurred.

 

If the landlord is agreeing to make repairs or changes, the landlord and tenant should make another list showing which damages the landlord has agreed to repair or change, and the date the work should be done (a common limit is ten days). This list should be signed and dated by the landlord before move-in and signed and dated by the tenant when the work has been completed. Again, everyone should keep a copy.

 

If either landlord or tenant refuses to cooperate in completing the inspection report, that is not a good sign. Finding another place to live, or another tenant, before a conflict arises is much easier than trying to settle disagreements when the tenancy ends

Living by the landlord’s rules Nearly every landlord has rules that tenants must live by. The law requires that the landlord show the tenant the rules and regulations before the tenant enters into the rental agreement, and that a copy of the rules be prominently posted on the premises where it can be seen by everyone living there.24 These rules should include homeowner association or community association rules or covenants. Tenants should read the rules carefully, and if they believe that they cannot live by the landlord’s rules, they should not rent the unit. The rules must be reasonable, must apply to all tenants equally, and must be clearly defined

Enforcing the rules The landlord’s rules may be enforced only if their purpose is to:

  • promote the convenience, safety, health or welfare of the tenants;

  • preserve the landlord’s property from abuse; or

  • make a fair distribution of services and facilities

The landlord cannot make rules that allow him to avoid his obligations. Once the tenant has seen the rules and moved in, he has agreed to abide by those rules. Failure to do so could mean an eviction. (See section on “Moving Out,”)

Changing the rules If the tenant has a lease, the rules may not be changed during the term of the lease if the changes would substantially modify the lease agreement. For example, the landlord cannot decide during the term of a lease that he will no longer allow pets on the premises. If the tenancy is month-to-month, the landlord may make such changes, but only after giving the tenant written notice at least 30 days before the rental due date when the rule changes will take effect. Tenants who do not wish to accept the rule changes may give a 30-day written notice before the rental due date and move out

If circumstances change Once the tenant and the landlord make a rental agreement, the tenant may NOT have the right to get back full deposits or prepaid rent if he or she decides not to move in. In a month-to-month tenancy, the tenant is responsible for as much as one month’s rent, or prorated rent on a day-to-day basis until someone else rents the unit, whichever is less. The landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit as soon as possible, at a fair rental price. If the tenant refuses to move in because the landlord misrepresented the condition of the unit, the tenant may owe nothing, and may be entitled to a full refund of the deposit and prepaid rent. If the premises are not ready on the first day of the rental term per the rental agreement or the landlord refuses to allow the tenants to move in, the tenants may cancel the agreement, or they may ask a court to order the landlord to live up to the agreement. Tenants may also sue the landlord and any person wrongfully living there for damages. If the landlord’s refusal to allow the tenants to move in is willful and in bad faith, the tenants may sue for 1½ times the actual damages.

When is discrimination illegal? It is illegal under both state and federal law for landlords to refuse to rent to someone because of sex, race, religion, national origin, color, physical or mental disability, or pregnancy. Under state law it is also illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of marital status or change in marital status.28 A landlord may not even make an inquiry regarding the tenant’s status in any of these areas.29 It is a violation of federal law to refuse to rent on the basis of a disabling disease which is not readily communicable, such as cancer or AIDS, or because a tenant has children. Federal fair housing laws may not apply to single family homes or two-, three- or four-family structures where the owner occupies one unit. State laws, however, apply to all residential rental units. In the Municipality of Anchorage, it is illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of age.30 Other communities may have similar specific ordinances. Check with your local Equal Rights Commission regarding local requirements. Each landlord may choose whether he or she wishes to rent to smokers. Neither state nor federal law makes smokers a protected class. It is unlikely that a landlord will openly refuse to rent to someone for an illegal reason. Frequently, a tenant may suspect there is an illegal reason behind some seemingly legal landlord practices. These are some indications that a landlord may be practicing discrimination

  • the apartment the tenant called about is suddenly “already taken” when the landlord sees the tenant;

  • a unit the landlord said was rented remains vacant;

  • the rent or deposit quoted is much higher than that advertised or charged for similar units;

  • rules are different for one tenant than for others in the same apartment building;

  • a real estate broker or agent does not refer a tenant to a rental listing that fits his needs, or

  • an advertisement indicates a preference for a certain race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status or national origin.

Cities in Alaska

  • Adak, AK

  • Akiachak, AK

  • Akiak, AK

  • Akutan, AK

  • Alakanuk, AK

  • Aleknagik, AK

  • Ambler, AK

  • Anaktuvuk Pass, AK

  • Anchor Point, AK

  • Anchorage, AK

  • Anderson, AK

  • Angoon, AK

  • Aniak, AK

  • Atqasuk, AK

  • Barrow, AK

  • Bethel, AK

  • Big Lake, AK

  • Brevig Mission, AK

  • Buckland, AK

  • Cantwell, AK

  • Chefornak, AK

  • Chevak, AK

  • Cooper Landing, AK

  • Copper Center, AK

  • Cordova, AK

  • Craig, AK

  • Delta Junction, AK

  • Dillingham, AK

  • Eek, AK

  • Eielson Afb, AK

  • Elim, AK

  • Emmonak, AK

  • Ester, AK

  • Fairbanks, AK

  • Fort Yukon, AK

  • Gakona, AK

  • Galena, AK

  • Gambell, AK

  • Glennallen, AK

  • Goodnews Bay, AK

  • Gustavus, AK

  • Haines, AK

  • Healy, AK

  • Holy Cross, AK

  • Homer, AK

  • Hoonah, AK

  • Hooper Bay, AK

  • Houston, AK

  • Huslia, AK

  • Hydaburg, AK

  • Juneau, AK

  • Kake, AK

  • Kaktovik, AK

  • Kaltag, AK

  • Kasigluk, AK

  • Kasilof, AK

  • Kenai, AK

  • Ketchikan, AK

  • Kiana, AK

  • King Cove, AK

  • King Salmon, AK

  • Kipnuk, AK

  • Kivalina, AK

  • Klawock, AK

  • Kodiak, AK

  • Kotlik, AK

  • Kotzebue, AK

  • Koyuk, AK

  • Kwethluk, AK

  • Kwigillingok, AK

  • Lower Kalskag, AK

  • Manokotak, AK

  • Marshall, AK

  • Mc Grath, AK

  • Mekoryuk, AK

  • Metlakatla, AK

  • Minto, AK

  • Moose Pass, AK

  • Mountain Village, AK

  • Naknek, AK

  • Napakiak, AK

  • Nenana, AK

  • New Stuyahok, AK

  • Nightmute, AK

  • Nikiski, AK

  • Ninilchik, AK

  • Noatak, AK

  • Nome, AK

  • Nondalton, AK

  • Noorvik, AK

  • North Pole, AK

  • Nuiqsut, AK

  • Nulato, AK

  • Nunapitchuk, AK

  • Old Harbor, AK

  • Ouzinkie, AK

  • Palmer, AK

  • Petersburg, AK

  • Pilot Station, AK

  • Point Hope, AK

  • Point Lay, AK

  • Port Lions, AK

  • Quinhagak, AK

  • Russian Mission, AK

  • Salcha, AK

  • Sand Point, AK

  • Savoonga, AK

  • Scammon Bay, AK

  • Selawik, AK

  • Seldovia, AK

  • Seward, AK

  • Shaktoolik, AK

  • Shishmaref, AK

  • Shungnak, AK

  • Skagway, AK

  • Soldotna, AK

  • Stebbins, AK

  • Sterling, AK

  • Talkeetna, AK

  • Tanana, AK

  • Teller, AK

  • Thorne Bay, AK

  • Togiak, AK

  • Tok, AK

  • Toksook Bay, AK

  • Trapper Creek, AK

  • Tuluksak, AK

  • Tuntutuliak, AK

  • Tununak, AK

  • Two Rivers, AK

  • Unalakleet, AK

  • Unalaska, AK

  • Valdez, AK

  • Venetie, AK

  • Wainwright, AK

  • Wasilla, AK

  • White Mountain, AK

  • Willow, AK

  • Wrangell, AK

  • Yakutat, AK

Individual Steps of the Eviction Process in Alaska

According to eviction laws in Alaska, the first major phase of the eviction process may be broken down into five steps:

  • A tenant must receive a Alaska eviction notice.

  • The landlord files an eviction claim in court.

  • The tenant must be personally served a copy of the summons and complaint.

  • The tenant responds to the complaint.

  • The court renders a decision based on the merits of the complaint and answer.

In order for the proceedings to be valid and binding, all these steps will have to be complied with. Let’s take a closer look at these five steps.

 

Step 1: Tenant must receive a “Notice to Quit.”

To initiate the eviction process, the landlord must first issue a notice to the tenant that the landlord is seeking to repossess the rented or leased property. This notice called a “Notice to Quit,” must state the intention to initiate eviction, together with the reasons for eviction. The landlord must request this document from the court, and must also include the exact name and address of the tenant, as well as the exact rental unit number and floor of the tenant’s residence. It must also be signed by the landlord.

The Notice to Quit generally aims to provide tenants with a chance to rectify whatever violations they made against the lease terms. If the violation is non-payment of rent, for example, the tenant may correct this by settling their rental fees. This is an example of a Conditional Notice to Quit, as the tenant may comply with the conditions in order to avoid eviction.

In some cases, however, the landlord may issue an Unconditional Notice to Quit, especially when the violation is so serious that it endangers the economic interests and physical safety of the landlord and/or their property. In this case, the tenant is not given the opportunity to remedy the situation. They must leave the premises.

Step 2: Landlord files a claim for 

If the tenant fails to respond to the Notice to Quit or to rectify their violations of the lease agreement within a reasonable time, as stated in the notice to quit, the landlord may file an eviction claim in court.

Step 3: The tenant must personally be served a copy of the summons and complaint.

This step is required in order to respect the tenant’s procedural due process rights. Either a sheriff or process server must personally serve these documents to the tenant or their authorized representative. 

Step 4: The tenant must respond to the complaint.

The tenant shall be given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the complaint and share their view on the issue. Failure to do so will entitle the landlord to request a writ of possession by default. 

Step 5: The court renders a decision.

In order to arrive at a decision, the court will have to hold a hearing and trial to hear both sides, that of the landlord and the tenant. If the court finds that the landlord is justified in repossessing their property, the court will issue a writ of possession, which entitles the landlord to regain possession of their property. If the tenant refuses to leave, a law enforcement officer will escort them out of the property.

However, as mentioned earlier, if the tenant does not respond to the complaint in a timely manner, the judge may, upon request of the landlord, issue a writ of possession by default. It’s important to note that a writ of possession by default may only be issued if there was valid personal service of the summons and complaint to the tenant.

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Landlord remedies. If tenants do not meet their responsibilities, the landlord can terminate the rental agreement by written notice and require that the tenants move. The written notice must be specific about the problem in question. (See “Termination of tenancy,” pg. 19.) If the tenants are notified of a problem and remedy the problem within the time allowed, but the problem occurs again within six months, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement using a three- or five-day written notice, depending on the type of problem. If this occurs the landlord does not need to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the problem. The notice must specify the problem and the date of termination (See pg. 22 for specific notice requirements). A lawsuit to evict a tenant is called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer Action”, or “FED”. A landlord who evicts a tenant may contact an attorney for representation, or landlords who are owners may elect to represent themselves. If the landlord who is an owner chooses to represent him or herself, it is a good idea to contact the Alaska Court System for its publication called “Eviction” (form number CIV-720 which may be found at www.courts.alaska.gov/forms/civ-720. pdf). This publication describes in detail the procedure for evictions from residential property for failure to pay rent, but will also help landlords with evictions for other reasons, since the process is quite similar

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Living in the Rental Property

 

The landlord’s responsibilities. The law requires that the landlord or his agent must

  • give the tenant a copy of any written rental agreement;

  • abide by the lawful terms of the agreement;

  • keep the tenant informed of any change in the landlord’s or his agent’s address;

  • make sure the premises are ready for the tenant when the rental agreement takes effect

  • ensure that the tenant’s enjoyment of the premises is not disturbed;

  • maintain a fit premises (See section titled “Property Maintenance,”)

  • give adequate notice of a rent increase;

  • give the required notice before demanding that a tenant move out; and

  • return the tenant’s security deposit and/or prepaid rent when the tenant moves out and/or give a complete written accounting of money held for accrued rent, damages and the cost of repair within the time limit required by law

Property Maintenance. The Landlord and Tenant Act provides that the landlord must:

  1. make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition

  2. keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;

  3. maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord;

  4. provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal;

  5. supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water and heat at all times, insofar as energy conditions permit, with exceptions as noted in the “Varying landlord duties” below.

  6. if requested by the tenant, provide and maintain locks and furnish keys reasonably adequate to ensure safety to the tenant’s person and property; and

  7. provide smoke and carbon monoxide detection devices as required under AS 18.70.095.

Examples of typical property maintenance duties which may fall under these statutory provisions include the landlord’s duty to maintain:

  • doors, windows, roofs, floors, walls and ceilings, ensuring that they do not leak or have holes;

  • plumbing that works, does not leak, and provides hot and cold water at reasonable water pressure

  • a working, safe stove and oven;

  • a reliable heating system which provides adequate heat to all rooms;

  • a safe electrical wiring system (with no loose or exposed wires, sockets that do not spark and adequate circuit breakers);

  • windows or fans that provide fresh air

  • enough garbage cans or dumpsters to provide an adequate and safe trash removal service;

  • extermination service if roaches, rats, mice or other pests infest the building, apartment or property

  • proper maintenance of any vacuum cleaners, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., supplied by the landlord (when not abused or broken by the tenant); and

  • properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detection devices

Varying landlord duties. The landlord’s duty to supply running water, hot water and heat can be changed if

  1. heat and hot water are supplied by a direct public utility connection through an installation that, due to the building’s construction, is under the exclusive control of the tenant; or

  2. there is no well or water provided by a direct public utility connection and the rental agreement specifically states that the tenant is waiving the landlord’s duty to supply running water or hot water.

If the rental is a single family residence located in an undeveloped rural area, or where public sewer or water service has never been connected, and where no private system for running water, hot water, sewage, or sanitary facilities was in place at the start of the tenancy, the landlord is not liable for failing to provide those services.

If the rental is a one- or two-family residence, wherever located, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing that the tenant perform the landlord’s duties for waste removal, running water, hot water, heat, locks and keys, and provision of fire and carbon monoxide detection devices. The agreement can also provide that the tenant perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling (except for elevators). In rentals where the rent exceeds $2000 per month, the duty-shifting agreement can also cover electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning kitchen, and other facilities and appliances. All such agreements have to be entered into in good faith, and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord.

If the rental is a two-family residence, the above agreements are permissible, but must be in a writing separate from the lease, must be supported by adequate consideration, and cannot diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to any other tenant. Also, the landlord may not treat performance of the tenant’s duties under that separate agreement as a condition of the rental agreement itself.

If the rental is larger than a two-family unit, duty-shifting agreements are more limited. The landlord and tenant can agree that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling. Like the agreements for two-family residences, the agreement must be in good faith, must not be for the purpose of evading the duties of the landlord, must be in a separate writing, must be supported by adequate consideration, and the tenant’s duties cannot be treated as a condition of the rental agreement itself.

Tenant remedies. If the landlord does not meet his or her responsibilities, the law provides remedies for the tenant. The type of remedies available depends on the type of noncompliance by the landlord.

Remedies for landlord’s noncompliance in general

  1. The tenant may move. 39 If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act which materially affects health and safety the tenant may move. The tenant must first give the landlord written notice describing the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 10 days from receipt of the notice, the tenant will move in 20 days. If the problem is fixed within 10 days the tenancy does not terminate. If the tenant still wants to move, a regular 30-day notice is required (in a month-to-month tenancy). If the tenant notified the landlord in writing of a problem and the landlord fixed it within the time allowed, but the landlord allows substantially the same problem to occur again within six months, the tenant may terminate the agreement with a ten-day written notice without allowing the landlord an opportunity to fix the problem. The notice must specify the problem and the date of termination of the tenancy. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord must return all prepaid rent or security deposits recoverable by the tenant. Tenants may not terminate a rental agreement for problems they themselves have caused.

  2. The tenant may obtain damages or injunctive relief. 40 A tenant may sue in court for damages or obtain injunctive relief for any noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or for certain violations of the Landlord and Tenant Act. If the total amount at issue is less than $10,000 the tenant may sue for damages in small claims court. For larger claims, or requests for injunctive relief, the tenant should see an attorney.

Remedies for landlord’s failure to supply essential services

If the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply an essential service (such as heat, water, sewer, electricity or plumbing), the tenant has several other alternative remedies. Prior to taking one of the remedies a tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and the remedy the tenant plans to take.

  1. The tenant may make repairs and deduct the cost from rent. Once written notice is given to the landlord stating that the tenant plans to do so the tenant may get the problem fixed and deduct the actual and reasonable expenses from the next month’s rent.41 (If the repair is very expensive, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney before taking this step.) The tenant should retain receipts for all costs, and submit them to the landlord for rent credit

  2. The tenant may procure reasonable substitute housing. The tenant can give the landlord written notice that he or she is moving into reasonable substitute housing. The tenant is then excused from paying rent until the problem is cured. If the tenant has to pay more than his or her regular rent to secure housing during this time, the tenant can charge the landlord for the difference.

  3. The tenant may obtain damages. In some cases, when the problem is really serious, it may reduce the value of the dwelling. If this happens, the tenant may sue, or in an action by the landlord for possession or rent, the tenant may counterclaim, to recover damages against the landlord based on the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling.

Housing codes. The primary purpose of housing codes is to protect the health and safety of the people who live in houses and apartments. A minimum standard of maintenance is set, making the landlord (not the tenant) responsible for keeping rental property in decent shape. (See “Landlord Responsibilities,”) The law protects tenants who exercise their right to report code violations. If they call to complain and ask for an inspection, the landlord cannot take revenge by harassing them (i.e. threatening eviction).44 Alaska has a statewide fire code, but does not have a statewide housing code. Many communities do have local codes. To learn more about housing codes in your community, or to report housing code violations or substandard living conditions, contact your local city, municipal, or borough government.

Tenant responsibilities

The Landlord and Tenant Act provides that the tenant:

  1. shall keep the part of the premises occupied and used by the tenant as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;

  2. shall dispose of all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste from the dwelling unit in a clean and safe manner

  3. shall keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;

  4. shall use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, airconditioning, kitchen, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises

  5. may not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove a part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so;

  6. may not unreasonably disturb, or permit others on the premises with the tenant’s consent to unreasonably disturb, a neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises;

  7. shall maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detection devices as required under AS 18.70.095; and

  8. may not, except in an emergency when the landlord cannot be contacted after reasonable effort to do so, change the locks on doors of the premises without first securing the written agreement of the landlord and, immediately after changing the locks, providing the landlord a set of keys to all doors for which locks have been changed; in an emergency, the tenant may change the locks and shall, within five days, provide the landlord a set of keys to all doors for which locks have been changed and written notice of the change

  9. may not unreasonably engage in conduct, or permit others on the premises to engage in conduct, that results in the imposition of a fee under a municipal ordinance adopted under AS 29.35.125 (fees for police protective services).

  10. may not allow the number of persons occupying the premises to exceed the number allowed by the rental agreement, by applicable law, or by a covenant limiting the landlord’s use of the premises.

To comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act and the rental agreement a tenant should

  • abide by the lawful terms of the rental agreement and the reasonable rules established by the landlord;

  • pay the rent on time;

  • be considerate of other tenants;

  •  keep the premises clean and safe;

  • remove snow and ice from leased premises (this does not include the common areas);

  • dispose of garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;

  • prevent damage to the premises;

  • replace or repair anything destroyed or damaged by accident or carelessness on the part of the tenant or the tenant’s guests;

  • make sure the unit’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working by testing them periodically and changing the batteries as needed

  • give adequate notice before moving;

  • move out when the rental agreement ends; and

  • clear the premises of possessions when moving out

The tenant must pay the rent each month as it becomes due. The landlord is not required to ask the tenant each month for the rent.49 If a different place for payment is not agreed upon when the tenant moves in, it is assumed that the rent will be collected at the dwelling unit.50 If the tenant rents monthly, the rent is due every month on the day of the month that the tenancy began, unless otherwise agreed.51 Thus, if the tenant moves in on the 8th, the rent is due on or before the 8th of every month, unless both parties agree to another rental due date, which is typically the 1st of the month.

Landlord remedies. If tenants do not meet their responsibilities, the landlord can terminate the rental agreement by written notice and require that the tenants move. The written notice must be specific about the problem in question. (See “Termination of tenancy,” pg. 19.) If the tenants are notified of a problem and remedy the problem within the time allowed, but the problem occurs again within six months, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement using a three- or five-day written notice, depending on the type of problem. If this occurs the landlord does not need to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the problem. The notice must specify the problem and the date of termination (See pg. 22 for specific notice requirements). A lawsuit to evict a tenant is called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer Action”, or “FED”. A landlord who evicts a tenant may contact an attorney for representation, or landlords who are owners may elect to represent themselves. If the landlord who is an owner chooses to represent him or herself, it is a good idea to contact the Alaska Court System for its publication called “Eviction” (form number CIV-720 which may be found at www.courts.alaska.gov/forms/civ-720. pdf). This publication describes in detail the procedure for evictions from residential property for failure to pay rent, but will also help landlords with evictions for other reasons, since the process is quite similar.

If the landlord needs to get in . . A landlord may enter the premises only to:

  • make repairs or perform maintenance.

  • supply necessary or agreed services;

  • inspect for damages;

  • show the premises to prospective buyers, renters, or contractors; or

  • remove personal property belonging to the landlord that is not covered under the rental agreement.

In these situations, the landlord MUST give the tenant 24 hours notice, say what time he or she is coming, and try to pick a time that is mutually convenient. The landlord may enter for these reasons only with the tenant’s consent and only at reasonable times.

The only time a landlord may enter the premises without permission is when:

  • it is not possible to contact the tenant by ordinary means;

  • he tenant has been gone from the property more than seven days without notice; or

  • there is an emergency (such as smoke, water, or explosion)

The landlord CANNOT abuse the right to request entry, or use it to harass tenants.

When a landlord abuses his or her right to enter by coming in without the tenant’s permission or repeatedly without need, the tenant can ask a court for an injunction ordering the landlord to stop. The tenant may also sue for actual damages or one month’s rent, whichever is greater, plus court costs and attorney fees. If the tenant wishes to move because the landlord has abused the access privilege, a 10-day written notice from tenant to landlord is required.

When a landlord abuses his or her right to enter by coming in without the tenant’s permission or repeatedly without need, the tenant can ask a court for an injunction ordering the landlord to stop. The tenant may also sue for actual damages or one month’s rent, whichever is greater, plus court costs and attorney fees. If the tenant wishes to move because the landlord has abused the access privilege, a 10-day written notice from tenant to landlord is required

 

The lowdown on locks. Tenants can insist that the landlord repair or replace the locks if the residence is not secure. 

 

Tenants may want to add an extra lock on their own to increase security. With the landlord’s permission, a tenant may add locks that can be used from the inside, such as chain bolts. If the tenant makes holes in the door or frame, he or she must leave the lock in place when moving out.

 

Neither a landlord nor a tenant may be locked out. If a landlord adds or changes locks, new keys must be given to the tenant right away.

Before changing locks, the tenant must generally get the landlord’s written permission. However, in an emergency, when the landlord can’t be contacted first, the tenant can change locks, provided he or she gives a new set of keys to the landlord within five days

Can the landlord raise the rent? Unless there is a lease, the landlord is legally entitled to raise the rent by any amount. But the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days' notice before the increase takes effect on a month-to-month tenancy.

 

Tenants then have two choices:

  • hey can agree to pay the rent; or

  • they can move out.

Legally, a notice of rent increase is probably equivalent to a termination of the rental agreement at the old rate and an offer to rent the same unit at a higher rate.

 

A landlord should, therefore, notify tenants of any rate increase at least 30 days before the increase goes into effect, and tenants who wish to leave rather than accept the increase should give the landlord a written 30-day notice of intent to terminate tenancy.

 

Tenants who receive a housing subsidy or live in a federal or state housing project may have rights in addition to those provided by state law. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) may control rent increases in housing where HUD has provided loan or rent guarantees to the owner. Contact the HUD office, your AHFC Public Housing case worker, an attorney, or if low income, Alaska Legal Services, if you have questions about HUD or AHFC rent controls

Fire or casualty damage. If the dwelling is substantially damaged by fire or other casualty (such as an earthquake or a flood), there are a couple of things the tenant can do, depending on the amount of damage to the dwelling.

 

When only a part of the unit is damaged and it is lawful for the tenant to continue to live there, the tenant should move out of the damaged part. The rent can be reduced to an amount that reflects the fair rental value of the undamaged part of the dwelling.

 

 If the tenant can no longer live in the unit, he or she can move out, notify the landlord, and stop paying rent. The rental agreement and responsibility to pay rent end when the tenant moves.

 

After the tenant moves, the landlord must return any recoverable deposit and prepaid rent to the tenant. Rent paid for time the tenant did not live in the dwelling (counted from the day of the casualty and including the day of the casualty) must be returned to the tenant.

Condemned dwellings. Buildings inspected and found to be very unsafe may be condemned. The city or borough housing inspector will tell the landlord that he or she must repair the problem or be taken to court.

 

When the problems are so serious that the inspector feels that the building is beyond repair, the inspector will order that it be torn down.

 

If the building is condemned, tenants may come home one day and find a sign posted on the building stating that it is unsafe for anyone to live there.

 

Tenants should immediately find out when the inspector and landlord expect them to move. They should also see an attorney before paying any more rent

Moving prior to the end of a lease. When a lease is signed, the tenant is promising to stay for a certain length of time. The tenant commits to paying the rent each month, whether or not he or she is living at the property. Unless the landlord signs a statement permitting it, the tenant CANNOT simply have someone else “take over” the rental unit.

 

Generally, there are only two ways a tenant can get out of a lease without breaking the lease:

  • if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with AS 34.03.100 materially affecting health and safety, the tenant can move (after giving 20 days written notice), unless the landlord corrects the problem within 10 days; or

  • f the landlord agrees to allow the tenant to sublease the property (See “Subleasing,” below)

If the tenant decides to move during the term of the lease, the tenant is usually still responsible for the rent for the rest of the lease period, unless the dwelling can be re-rented earlier. The landlord is responsible for making a good faith effort to re-rent the property, and may not charge the original tenant rent after the property is re-rented, or for any time during which the landlord does not make a reasonable, good faith effort to rent the property.

 

If the landlord attempts to re-rent the property, the tenant may be responsible for rent while the property is vacant during the term of the lease.

Subleasing. If a rental agreement requires the landlord’s consent to sublease, the tenant may obtain one or more persons who are willing to take over the lease. Each prospective occupant must make a signed written offer to the landlord containing the following information about the person:

  • name, age and present address;

  • occupation, present employment, and name and address of employer

  • how many people will live in the apartment

  • two credit references; and

  • names and addresses of all landlords of the applicant for the past three years

 

Once given this information, the landlord has 14 days to answer the request. No answer within 14 days is the same as 
consent, and the tenant can go ahead and sublease.65 The new tenants may be rejected only for certain specific reasons, 
and the landlord cannot unreasonably prevent subleasing

Lawful reasons for denial. If the landlord decides not to allow the sublease, a written basis for the decision must be provided. The only legal reasons are:

  • insufficient credit standing or financial responsibility;

  • too many people for the residence;

  • unwillingness of the new tenant to accept the terms of the rental agreement

  • the tenant’s pets are not acceptable;

  • the tenant’s proposed commercial activity; or

  • a bad report from a former landlord of the prospective tenant

If the landlord refuses the new tenant-applicant, but does not give one of these reasons, the tenant can either go ahead with the sublease or move out.68 If the choice is to move, the tenant must give a written notice to the landlord 30 days in advance of the rental due date by which the tenant plans to move

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