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Know your rights as a renter in New Mexico

If you want to know your rights when you’re renting a place, check out the New Mexico Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act. Here are some main points from the Act:

The key to getting your landlord to fix something is by writing a letter. A phone call works, but the law won’t require the landlord to do anything unless you’ve given him notice in writing.

Tenants have a right to basic living standards. Landlords are required to: (1) make repairs and do whatever is necessary to keep the premises in a safe condition; (2) maintain in working order any electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other appliances that come with the place; (3) supply running water and a reasonable amount of hot water at all times and reasonable heat; and (4) provide trash cans for garbage disposal.

Once a landlord has been put on written notice of the problem, the tenant can pay 1/3 less per day in rent until the problem is fixed. If the property is uninhabitable and you’re not staying in it, then you can stop payments altogether.

Alternatively, if the problem is reasonably serious, you can put the landlord on notice that you’re terminating the lease in seven days if the problem is not fixed.
Another key to getting your landlord to do something is to get a lease for six months or a year. Yes, it will tie you down to the place, but if you don’t have one, then you’re renting on a month-to-month basis and the landlord can kick you out at anytime, for any reason, by giving you 30 days written notice.

If you have a lease and violate a term of your rental agreement, the landlord can’t just kick you out — he must give you at least seven days to correct the problem. If you violate the agreement a second time within six months of the first violation, then he can terminate the lease. But he must still give you 30 days notice to move out.

If a tenant stops paying rent and abandons the property, the landlord is required to store all personal property of the resident left on the premises for at least 30 days.

Carlos Ruiz de la Torre contributed to this article.

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