Guide to Puerto Rico Landlord Tenant Law
While most U.S. states have uniform landlord tenant codes that mandate many tenants' rights and landlord responsibilities, PR landlord tenant law is still largely a matter of contract law. This guide will only provide a basic review of Puerto Rico landlord tenant law. In general, the lease agreement between a renter and the property owner will dictate most of PR landlord tenant law for a particular case. Because of this, it is especially important to have an attorney familiar with Puerto Rico landlord tenant law review any lease before you sign it.
If you pay a security deposit to your landlord, PR landlord tenant law requires that your lease contain information on how the security deposit is to be repaid to you at the end of your lease term. In many situations, landlords will allow renters to use their security deposit as their final month of rent, but this is not guaranteed by Puerto Rico landlord tenant law and is entirely up to your landlord's discretion.
If your security deposit is not returned by the time specified in your lease and no damage was done to your property besides normal wear and tear, PR landlord tenant law allows you to take your landlord to court for the deposit. You may also be awarded attorney fees.
While some landlords may attempt to use “self help” eviction methods like shutting off a tenant's utilities, changing their locks, or removing their belongings to force them out of their home, this is illegal according to Puerto Rico landlord tenant law. Evictions are only allowed by PR landlord tenant law if the landlord has filed a lawsuit and has gone through the eviction process in court. If your landlord is attempting to remove you from your property in violation of Puerto Rico landlord tenant law, you need to contact an attorney immediately to learn your legal options.
Before renting in Puerto Rico, you should make sure that your lease covers the habitability of your unit. PR landlord tenant law does not specifically mention habitability, but in general, if your lease includes such a clause, your landlord must provide you with hot and cold safe running water, electricity, functional plumbing systems, and functioning doors and windows. You may want to check with a lawyer who understands Puerto Rico landlord tenant law if you believe your landlord has violated any habitability clauses in your lease.
If a tenant or landlord breaches a lease in a material way, PR landlord tenant law allows the lease to be broken by the other party. For instance, if your landlord is violating your lease by entering your home without notice, you may be able to leave your unit without paying any lease penalties (and may be able to seek your moving costs and attorney fees in court). When tenants breach leases, Puerto Rico landlord tenant law only requires that the landlord notify the tenant before initiating eviction proceedings if the lease agreement provides for this. Otherwise, tenants may not need to be notified before eviction proceedings begin.