Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

Something to Think About: Tenant Law and City Ordinance

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The bunch of evictions and all the talk about the curfew have gotten me thinking about some little details a lot of people don’t really know about the way their own place of residence works.  It’s not just the eviction process that people are clueless about.  It’s everything.

The eviction process is perhaps the most talked about here.  No one seems to know how it works.  All they know is that you get a notice on your door, then at some point they set a court date for you.  They have no idea what happens in between or what any of the other details of the process are.  I have to admit, I didn’t either.  I’d been through eviction once before in another state and the process was very different.  Some states are more tenant friendly.  Others are more supportive of the rights of the landlord.  Our state falls into the second category, which is unfortunate.

Evictions tend to be a simple matter to research.  It’s all right there in the documentation for tenant law.  This gives you all the details for what your landlord is responsible for and what you are responsible for as a tenant.  This also gives you a good list of what you can do if there’s ever a problem.  Have a leaky roof?  Tenant law will give you instructions on what process you need to follow if your landlord is giving you problems with getting it fixed.  Back door insecure?  Look to tenant law on that one too.  What about maintenance?  Tenant law will give you all the options on what to do in any situation, who you need to report it to if there’s a problem, and how to handle it.  Tenant law also details what you’re responsible for as a tenant beyond what’s included in the lease.  A landlord can act against you if you violate tenant law or your lease agreement, so it’s incredibly important to be familiar with both.

Tenant law also dictates when a landlord can evict and how the process will be run.  I hate to say it, but they’ve been pretty generous around here.  Instead of filing the eviction notices on the first day they could, they waited to, but they waited.  Once the eviction gets rolling tenant law will dictate how you can stop the eviction and satisfy the courts as far as letting them agree to staying on the property.  Tenant law can also dictate how long the process might take, giving you plenty of time to prepare if you know it’s coming.

With all of this it’s important to become intimately familiar with your lease as well.  For example, in our state, unless otherwise stated in the lease extermination of household pests is the responsibility of the landlord.  Tenant law and the lease work in close accordance.  It’s also good to be familiar with tenant law before you sign a lease.  While it’s not common that a landlord will try and slip something by you that they legally can’t, it is occasionally done.  It’s good to know when the landlord is trying to make your lease conflict with tenant law to avoid conflict later.

If you own your own home, this really goes out the window, but that’s when terms of mortgages and homeowners associations may come into play.  It’s good to know these terms as well.  The more you know, the better prepared you are to prevent problems or to sort them out when they occur.

Then there’s a whole other set of laws that govern your ability to function in the place you live.  State and federal laws are pretty well known in most cases, but sometimes the only way you know about local laws is to learn it the hard way.  Sometimes local laws aren’t really a big deal, but that’s not always the case.  It never hurts to be familiar with local laws, and if you oppose them, how to petition for change.  This includes tenant law, but also expands to various city or town ordinances.  In a lot of places throughout the state there is a requirement for mowing the lawn.  If your grass isn’t short enough the town will do it and charge you for the labor.  Most town and city ordinances make a lot of sense.  Overgrown plants on your property can detract from the value of surrounding properties, encourage wild animals and pests that aren’t favorable in the city, and can create a fire hazard when the land gets dry.  The town curfew we have here also makes sense, though it’s on the early side in comparison to other local curfews.  However, it was put in place to reduce gang violence and make sure our children are safe from potential abduction.  Many of these laws are logical, but they’re also good to know.  Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.

Normally my days of thought are something that all ends in activism, but in light of everything I’ve been seeing happen and all the complaints I’ve heard about what’s going on I felt it’s worth noting.  Local laws are perhaps the most highly ignored of all laws, and the most unknown, especially with the frequency people move from city to city these days.  Tenant law is highly overlooked, which leads people thinking they can do a lot of things that really aren’t supportable under their local tenant law because that’s where it was when they moved before, or perhaps that’s the way it was when their friend or relative went through it where they are.

Knowledge really is power these days, even if there’s little or nothing you can do to change some of these ordinances and laws.  If you know what’s going to cause trouble, like when the noise ordinance or citywide curfew kicks in, it’s easier to live peacefully in society with no problems.  As much as I like to be an activist, I’d rather call attention to myself for the things I choose to change, not the things I didn’t even realize I was doing wrong.

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Author: Fox

With four kids in the house, who has time for much? Well, we're trying to make it work, trying to get as close to our unschooling roots as we can while state restrictions and family pressures try to stand in our way. Every day is a new adventure.

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