Yesterday when I picked up my mail I was greeted by not one, but two, letters from a law firm. Being a law abiding citizen, I kind of freaked out. Opening it, I found that the owner of the condo I am leasing is delinquent in their condo fees. The condo association is now demanding I pay them in lieu of paying rent to my landlord, and is threatening legal action, including eviction, against me if I don’t. Even though I have done nothing wrong. This is my third week in the apartment. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it.
So here’s my case for tenant’s rights. When I applied for this apartment, I had to fill out a detailed application with information about how much I had in my bank accounts, my debts (none, by the way), my employment history and salary, personal references, etc. All to prove I could and would pay rent on time. This is all normal, and I know that. But, as I signed a legal agreement in the form of a lease, which gave my landlord all sorts of recourse if I was delinquent in rent, I had no protection if the landlord did not pay their mortgage or their condo fees. I had no assurance in the form of an application with their personal and financial information or the opportunity to run a credit check to make sure they would pay their mortgage and other associated fees on time so that I could continue residence in the property.
Should I have demanded this? As I’m learning, probably. Is it normal? No. Would I have been rebuffed if I had asked? Probably. We should demand tenant’s rights, because when owners are foreclosed on and tenants have to deal with the consequences of not having a home, or condo fees aren’t paid and the association holds the tenants responsible, and we as tenants have no recourse, that isn’t OK. Why do landlords get all of the legal protection and tenants get next to nothing? I’m not OK with that. I’m a financially responsible, law abiding person, and I won’t stand to be held legally responsible for my landlord’s apparent irresponsibility just because I happen to be the tenant.