The landlord and tenant should carefully check references, credit histories, and prior landlords or tenants before entering into any lease agreement. All leases, notices, requests for repairs, communications between landlord and tenant, rent payments, rent receipts should be in writing (although they may not be required to be in writing) to prevent disputes that the Court must settle. If the landlord accepts late rent payments, future late rent payments may not be considered a breach of the lease, unless the landlord has notified (preferably in writing) the tenant that future late rent payments will not be accepted and will be considered a breach of the lease.
Unless the terms of the lease provide otherwise, the general rule is that a month-to-month lease, written or oral, requires advance notice of 30 days for either the landlord or the tenant for termination. There are certain situations listed by statute (I.C. 32—7-1-7), however, where advance notice is not required. For example, if the rent has not been paid, the landlord can ask the tenant to vacate without advance notice. Actual eviction by the Sheriff, however, requires a court order.
The landlord may assess reasonable late rent charges only if the tenant has agreed in advance to the practice. Landlords have the right to enter the premises at reasonable times and with reasonable notice to make repairs and inspections; they are entitled to immediate access to make emergency repairs and inspection.
The landlord has no duty to make repairs unless the landlord has agreed to do so. The tenant must inform the landlord promptly when a repair is needed. If the landlord has a duty to make the repair and fails to do so within a reasonable time after notice, the tenant may have the repair completed and may deduct the cost from the rent, but only if the repair is essential and if the tenant has requested the repair.
The landlord may recover a judgement only for damages in excess of normal wear and tear. The tenant is expected to leave the premises in the same condition as when he or she took possession. The landlord may not keep any portion of a damage or security deposit unless there is back rent due or damages to the premises. For rental agreements which began after June 30, 1999, the landlord must, within 45 days of receiving the tenant’s forwarding address, either refund in full any security or damage deposit or deliver to the tenant an itemized, written statement showing why all or part of the deposit is being kept by the landlord. The tenant should return the keys to the landlord as soon as the premises have been vacated. The landlord may charge additional rent until the keys are returned or until the locks have been changed, in which case the landlord may deduct the cost of the new locks from the security deposit.
The landlord may not hold the tenant’s personal property as security for unpaid rent UNLESS the Court rules that the property is abandoned or the Court orders the landlord to attach the property, in which case the landlord may dispose of the property and apply its value against any judgement the landlord has against the tenant.
If the Court awards possession of the premises to the landlord, the landlord may seek a Court order allowing the landlord to remove and deliver the tenant’s personal property to a warehouse for storage. In such an event, the warehouse has a lien or claim against the property for expenses.
The tenant is responsible for the expenses associated with the storage of the property. Finally, the landlord is required to mitigate his or her damages. For example, if the tenant leaves the premises before the lease ends, the landlord must make every reasonable effort to re-rent the premises and reduce the rent due from the tenant for the remainder of the lease.