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Landlord Tenant Law Essay Competitions

Each year, the Canadian American Bar Association holds an essay competition to engage law students in addressing relevant cross-border legal issues. This year’s essay topic will be announced in January 2017 and submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. The deadline for submissions will be May 2017.

To be eligible, contestants must be enrolled in a law school in the United States or Canada at the time of the competition.

More details will be announced soon. Please join CABA to receive more information.

2017 Student Essay Competition

CABA is proud to announce the 2017 edition of its annual student essay competition.  This competition is an integral part of CABA’s mission to provide a voice to Canadians in the United States and Americans in Canada and to foster a greater understanding of rules with cross-border implications as well as an engagement in their development.


Any student registered in a Canadian or American law school for the Winter and/or Spring semesters of 2017 (whether in the J.D., LL.B., B.C.L. or equivalent first degree program, or in the LL.M. program).  However, students completing doctoral or postdoctoral studies are not admissible.

In addition, based on this year’s essay theme, students registered in undergraduate or master’s degree programs which have a mandatory international law component are also admissible.


Since the North Agreement Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), a regional agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico to implement a free trade area, entered into force on January 1, 1994, the two-way trade between Canada and the United States has more than tripled, reaching some $2.4 billion in goods and services daily over the course of 2015.  Canada is now the top export destination for 35 American states, while the United States is the most important destination for Canada’s direct investments abroad.

Despite this increasing level of economic interdependency and trade, during his campaign for the American presidential election, Donald Trump qualified NAFTA as the “worst deal ever made” and vowed to withdraw from the agreement if he cannot achieve a satisfactory renegotiation of the treaty.  In the days following the election, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that he was “happy to talk” about renegotiating NAFTA.  A memo from Mr. Trump’s transition team obtained by the media indicates that the next American president intends to follow through on the renegotiation of NAFTA, and more particularly with regards to Canada, intends to target the rules currently regulating livestock and softwood lumber.

Since it is likely that renegotiation over NAFTA will commence in 2016, we invite students to write essays identifying one issue which in their opinions should be part of the renegotiation of the agreement between Canada and the United States.  The essays should explain why the issue is in need of renegotiation, how it affects both countries, and how a renegotiated agreement should address the issue and why.


The essays should be drafted in English or French, submitted in both Word and PDF formats, and have no more than 3500 words, including the title and the footnotes.  It should be submitted no later than May 31, 2017 via email at policyandadvocacy@canambar.com.  In the cover email, the student should include the following information: (a) full name; (b) city of origin; (c) school; (d) program; (e) year level; (f) address; and (g) phone number.

The winner of the essay will be announced on or before July 31, 2017.


  • $500 USD from our sponsor Dorsey & Whitney LLP
  • Publication of the winning essay on CABA’s website

Basic Landlord Obligations Under Landlord-Tenant Law

Things a Landlord Must Legally Do

Landlord tenant laws were created to serve as a blueprint for the interactions, rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. While each state’s laws will vary slightly, there are some general duties and services that every landlord must provide. Here are five basic obligations every landlord must follow regardless of the state where he or she owns rental property.*

A landlord’s duties under landlord-tenant law are typically broken down into five parts:

  1. Security Deposit
  2. Disclosure of Owner
  3. Delivering Possession of the Unit
  4. Maintenance
  5. Liability

Obligation to Manage Security Deposit or Prepaid Rent

The first obligation of every landlord has to do with a tenant's security deposit. Every landlord has the right to charge their tenants a security deposit even though this deposit never actually belongs to the landlord. Instead, this deposit is a form of security for the landlord in case the tenant fails to pay rent, damages the property or otherwise breaches the lease agreement.

Landlords have an obligation to follow the statewide and local laws regarding the security deposit. For instance, certain states set limits on the maximum amount of security a landlord can charge a tenant for a deposit. There are also specific rules for storing the security deposit, returning the security deposit and what to do with the security deposit if you sell your property.

Landlords are obligated to follow these laws or they can face legal consequences for failing to do so.

Obligation to Disclose Owner

The second obligation every landlord has is to disclose to their tenants certain information about the owner of the property. This responsibility lies with the person who has signed the lease agreement with the tenant, whether it be the building’s owner, the landlord, or another individual who is acting as the landlord’s agent.

The names and addresses of the individual or individuals with the power to manage the building, collect rent, make repairs, address complaints or issue notices.

This disclosure should usually be made in writing and should occur before the actual tenancy begins. If any changes occur during a tenant’s tenancy, the tenant must be notified of the change.

  • Why This Disclosure Is Important:

The purpose of this obligation is to ensure that the tenant knows the correct contact person for various activities such as rent collection and maintenance requests, as well as for any legal issues that may arise.

If this disclosure of owner is not made to the tenant, the person collecting the rent becomes the go-to person for handling all matters related to the property.

Obligation to Deliver Possession of Unit

The third obligation for landlords under the landlord-tenant law is to deliver possession of the unit to the tenant. This means having the unit vacant for the tenant on the move-in date that was specified in the lease agreement. If the unit is not available for the tenant on the specified move-in date, the tenant may be able to pursue legal action against the landlord for failure to honor the lease agreement.

In addition, if there is a squatter in the unit or another individual who does not have the legal right to be there, the landlord may pursue legal action against this individual. The landlord could be awarded damages.

Obligation to Maintain the Unit

A landlord has the responsibility to his or her tenants to maintain the property. This includes keeping the property clean, safe and habitable.The landlord must adhere to all building codes, perform necessary repairs, maintain common areas, keep all vital services, such as plumbing, electricity, and heat, in good working order, must provide proper trash receptacles and must supply running water.

Obligations Subject to Limitation of Liability

A landlord is liable for following the obligations set forth under landlord-tenant law. This includes adhering to the terms of the lease agreement.

In many states, a landlord is relieved of this liability once they sell the property and notify the tenant in writing that the property is under new ownership or management. The new owner then becomes liable for adhering to the terms of the lease agreement and for following the landlord-tenant law in the state.

The landlord who collected the security deposit is still responsible for the tenant’s security deposit. The landlord usually has two options:

  1. Transfer the deposit to the new owner minus any allowable deductions and notify the tenant in writing that the new owner is in possession of the security deposit. The original landlord will then be relieved of any further liability.

  2. Return the deposit to the tenant minus any allowable deductions.

*Be sure to check your state and local landlord-tenant laws to discover additional or different obligations that may apply in your area.

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