Beware of the landlords?!
Since practicing in Las Vegas, I have heard many stories about “slumlords,” i.e. shady, unethical landlords. For example, a landlord had verbally promised to clean or revamp a property before the tenant moved in, only to renege on and deny that promise afterwards; or a landlord who repeatedly painted over mold without proper remediation, causing their tenants to get ill.
To be fair, I have also heard many stories about undesirable tenants, such as a tenants keeping dogs in the property despite a prohibition against pets in the lease, and then failing to account for the damage and soiling from the pets after moving out; or tenants who stole appliances upon moving out and then completely disappeared from the radar.
Although either side can sue for damages in court, sometimes a landlord or tenant decides that course isn’t worth the hassle. For example, the landlord may feel the tenant is indigent and wouldn’t be able to pay a judgment, or the landlord may be unable to locate the tenant and doesn’t want to spend money investigating the tenant’s whereabouts. Or a tenant may have relied on verbal representations or failed to take pictures or other evidence of property conditions to prove his/her point, so doesn’t want to risk losing in court for lack of evidence. I iterated this point in a recent article in which I provided commentary: 3 Reasons Why You Should Always Get a Rent Receipt.
Bottom line: you may not be able to avoid getting a bad landlord or tenant, but if you find yourself in that situation, try to keep as much evidence as possible, assert your rights early, and know the state’s laws. Try to keep communications in writing. In Nevada, for instance, tenants have to express grievances about habitability issues in writing to have most legal/statutory remedies available. I’ve gone over some of the aforementioned rights in my page on Residential Landlord-Tenant Law.