A landlord and tenant act is a law that governs the terms of landlord and tenant relationships in a given jurisdiction. In a landlord and tenant act, lawmakers typically define the rights of both landlord and tenant, acceptable provisions in lease agreements, as well as the ways in which lease disputes should be handled. In many cases, a landlord and tenant act specifically addresses the issue of eviction so as to protect the landlord's right to maintain his property and collect rent while also preventing him from unjustly depriving tenants of their homes.
Housing laws can vary significantly by jurisdiction, although within a country there are often some guiding legal principles that influence landlord and tenant laws. For example, in the United States, each state sets its own landlord and tenant law, and in some cases individual cities also have landlord-tenant ordinances. Throughout the United States, however, there exists the common law principle of quiet enjoyment, which means that tenants have a right to live in their rental homes free of intrusion by their landlord or other tenants. The same principle exists throughout the United Kingdom.
In many cases, a landlord and tenant act provides both landlords and tenants with specific rights that cannot be abridged even by a mutually agreed upon provision in rental contracts or rental agreements. The assumption behind this sort of restriction is that the landlord and tenant act protects the basic rights of both parties and that these rights ought not be relinquished. For example, a tenant may not be able to give up his right to due process during an eviction. If the landlord required a tenant to sign a rental agreement in which the tenant waived his right to appropriate notice and an eviction court hearing, the tenant could ask the judge to set aside that particular agreement so that the landlord would have to complete the established eviction process for the area in which the tenant lives.
Another important part of many landlord and tenant acts are the definitions of landlord and tenant rights as well as remedies for each party in case one side does not meet his obligations. There is usually a list of grounds for eviction that landlords can use to remove tenants from their properties. Tenants are also guaranteed rights to safe housing, and the landlord and tenant act may provide for tenant remedies in cases where a landlord is neglectful. These remedies may include the right to terminate a lease or the right to not pay rent until the landlord corrects problems.