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Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act

Landlord/Tenant Tutorial for Judges in New Mexico

The Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act

What law covers landlord-tenant disputes?

The legal relationship between a landlord and tenant is a contract, governed by contract and property law. To resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, the court should look to the contractual agreement, if any, between them and also consult the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, NMSA 1978 §§47-8-1 through -52.

Does the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act cover all landlord-tenant relationships?

The Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act applies to, regulates and determines rights, obligations and remedies under a rental agreement for dwelling units. The Act does not cover commercial properties, such as rental of a business space. The Act applies to mobile home park owners and residents unless a provision of the Mobile Home Park Act directly conflicts with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act. §47-8-52. It also applies to mobile homes rented in locations other than mobile home parks. See definition of “dwelling unit” in §47-8-3(F).

What if there is a conflict between the contract and the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act?

In general, the landlord and tenant can agree to contractual terms that differ from the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, and the court should uphold such terms – as long as the Act or other laws do not prohibit such terms. If the court finds that a provision of the rental agreement was inequitable at the time of the contract, the court may limit the application of the provision in order to avoid an unjust result. §47-8-12. Furthermore, no rental agreement may include a provision in which the resident or owner agrees to waive or forego rights or remedies under law. §47-8-16.

What if the court finds that the owner knowingly included illegal provisions in the rental agreement?

If it is shown that an owner deliberately uses a rental agreement that contains provisions that he or she knows are prohibited by law, then the resident can recover damages sustained because of the illegal provision, plus reasonable attorney’s fees. §47-8-17.

Does the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act apply to oral agreements?

It has not been definitively resolved whether the Act can be enforced in the absence of a written lease agreement. Section 47-8-3(P) of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, defines “rental agreement” as all agreements between an owner and resident. This would imply that the Act covers oral agreements. Note, however, that under §47-8-20, the owner is obligated to provide a written rental agreement to the tenant prior to the beginning of occupancy.