North Dakota is home to 765,309 people, with 38% living in rental housing and 62% living in their own homes. This is quite a substantial number of renters. Much like the rest of the country, North Dakota has landlord-tenant laws in place.
The landlord-tenant law helps bring order in an otherwise potentially chaotic environment. If you’re a landlord in Grand Forks, here’s a basic overview of the statewide landlord-tenant law you should be knowledgeable about.
Required Landlord Disclosures
Landlords must make certain disclosures to their tenants before lease signing is done. While other states require more, North Dakota landlords only have to make one disclosure.
This required disclosure is that, if you’re renting out a property built before 1978, you must provide your tenant with information regarding lead-based paint. The goal of this is to help protect your tenant from any potential lead exposure. Lead is a health hazard and can cause a myriad of health complications, especially in children.
Under the 1992 Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, you are required to provide your tenant with a lead-paint pamphlet, among other things.
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities
North Dakota landlords have a right to:
- Inspect a unit as per the lease or rental agreement
- Enter a unit to make agreed or requested repairs
- Make changes to the lease agreement with the approval of the tenant
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to leave for extended periods of time
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to vacate their rental premises
- Make appropriate deductions to a tenant’s security deposit under certain conditions
- Evict a tenant for violating the terms and conditions of the rental agreement
North Dakota landlords also have certain responsibilities under the statewide landlord-tenant act. You have a responsibility to:
- Provide a habitable dwelling that meets all federal, state and local laws
- Make requested repairs within a reasonable period of time
- Follow the state’s eviction process when trying to evict a tenant for lease violation
- Notify tenants whenever looking to change the terms of the lease agreement
Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Your North Dakota tenant has a right to:
- Form or join a tenants’ union to champion their rights
- Enjoy their rented premises in peace and quiet
- Live in a habitable property that meets all habitable standards at the local, state and federal level
- Perform a repair and deduct the appropriate amounts from the rent money
Tenants in North Dakota aren’t without responsibilities as well. Your tenant is responsible for:
- Letting you know when they are looking to vacate their premises
- Notifying you when maintenance issues crop up
- Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement, including paying rent on time, every month
- Keeping their rented premises in a good state of cleanliness
- Notifying you when planning to be away for extended periods of time
Overview of North Dakota Landlord-Tenant Laws
1. Small Claims Court
A small claims court is designed to help parties resolve issues quickly and inexpensively. A common dispute between landlords and tenants involves the use and return of security deposits.
A tenant may think they have returned the property in a good condition, but a landlord may disagree. Consequently, one of the parties may move to a small claims court to file a lawsuit against the other.
Different states set different lawsuit amounts. In North Dakota, a small claims court may only hear a lawsuit amounting to $15,000 or less.
2. Landlord Entry
As is the case everywhere in the country, every landlord in North Dakota has a right to enter their tenant’s rented premises. However, to do so, you must serve your tenant with reasonable notice prior to entering their premises, or else this may warrant them breaking the lease.
Common reasons for landlord entry include to:
- Inspect the unit for damage
- Respond to a repair request
- Enter in case of a court order
- Respond to an emergency
- Show the unit to prospective lenders, buyers or renters
The only exception to providing your tenant notice is if you’re responding to an emergency.
3. Housing Discrimination
All forms of housing-related discrimination are illegal, as per North Dakota Fair Housing laws. As a landlord, it’s illegal to discriminate against your tenant on the basis of their:
- National origin
- Marital status
You should, therefore, be particularly keen during tenant screening. You should stay away from questions that would potentially be in violation of the Fair Housing Laws. For instance:
- Do you do to church in the neighborhood?
- Where do your kids go to school?
- Are you pregnant?
- Where were your parents born?
- Are you white or Hispanic?
4. Security Deposits
The security deposit laws are contained in the statewide landlord-tenant act. It helps minimize issues in regards to the use and return of tenants’ security deposits. The following are some rules.
- The maximum amount you can ask for as a security deposit should not exceed the equivalent of one month’s rent
- You must store the tenant’s deposit in an interest-accruing account. Then, you must pay the tenant interest if they occupy the property for at least 9 months
- You must return the deposit back to the tenant within 30 days of them moving out
- You may make appropriate deductions to the tenant’s deposit if they have caused excessive property damage
5. Tenant Evictions
As a landlord, you have a right to evict your tenant for violating the lease agreement. Common lease violations usually involve non-payment of rent, illegal acts and excessive property damage.
Tenants have a right to a judicial eviction process. As such, make sure you understand the steps you are required to follow in order to evict a tenant successfully. Generally speaking, though, you’ll need to:
- Have a legal reason to evict your tenant
- Serve the tenant with an eviction notice
- File a summons and complaint in a relevant court
- Attend the hearing
- File for a writ of restitution
Disclaimer: The information herein is only meant to be educational. It is in no way meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need further help, please consider hiring expert legal services.