Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 29: Housing and the Consumer

Chapter Overviews

Families that buy a home generally obtain a loan, called a mortgage, to help finance this large purchase. Due to the large expenses associated with buying a home, most young people choose to rent an apartment or house when they begin living on their own.

Leases: A Special Kind of Contract  The relationship between the person who owns a property (landlord) and the person who pays to use the property (tenant) is created by a contract called a lease. The lease usually includes the date the tenant will move in, the amount of the rent, and the length of the lease. It is important to inspect a property thoroughly and to read the lease carefully before signing a rental agreement.

Landlord-Tenant Negotiations  Negotiating with a landlord about rent and lease terms may be difficult, but this should not discourage you from trying. It is important to convince the landlord that you are a good tenant who can be trusted to pay the rent on time, prevent unnecessary damage to the property, and not be a disturbance to neighbors. The landlord, in turn, has certain obligations to you as a tenant, including to treat you fairly and to take responsibility for major maintenance and repairs.

Homelessness: Is There a Right to Housing?  Most experts agree that the leading cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Many people who need homes do not have enough money to rent or purchase one. Although the U.S. Constitution does not include a right to housing, some state constitutions have been interpreted to include such a right.

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