Your experience as a tenant will vary from every landlord that you come across. It would be best if you understand your rights as a tenant. Get to know the power limits of your landlord and your rental rights. This way, you will have a good experience when leasing someone’s rental unit. Some of these laws are not new to you. They include the fundamental local laws that are in the rental agreements.
A tenant’s rights that you will enjoy will be different per state, but federal laws apply to all. They dictate how the landlord-tenant agreement drafting occurs.
What are the rights of a tenant?
Contrary to what you may think, the renter’s rights not only protect the tenant but, in some instances, the landlord. They include the following:
The Right to Privacy
After paying rent, you own the space. As much as the landlord wants to conduct check-ups or repairs, they will have to be notified days before their visit. According to the tenant’s rights, the landlord has to tell you either through an official notice or by word of mouth, and you have to confirm. These are contained in the rental agreement, including how soon the notice is issued. Check before you sign.
The Fair Housing Act
This federal law covers discrimination by a landlord when looking to lease a property.
It protects against discrimination in the following ways:
- National origin
- Family status
According to law.cornell.edu, a landlord that violates this law is subject to legal action when reported to the Housing Department in any state.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
When reviewing a rental unit application, the landlords always pick the best tenants. A tenant who will not have trouble with unpaid rent will give them an easy time. To do this, they will need access to your credit report. Federal law states that the potential tenant must consent to run the credit report.
In instances where the landlord denies an application because of a poor credit report, they are required by law to inform the affected applicant.
Right to Accept Service Animals
Service animals are commonly used by the disabled. It is a renter’s right that they behave with their service animals. Recognized as a federal law, all landlords must adhere to it or risk facing legal action.
Refusal of children
Tenants are the winners here. Yes, landlords cannot tell you the number of children you should have under the roof. The federal fair housing act directs that renters control the number of children. However, the landlord is to offer a few restrictions.
The property owner can designate specific parts of the rental unit to families with many children. The families can also be restricted from using common spaces.
Right to Notice Before Raising the Rent
The lease agreement solves legal issues when it comes to renting. The landlord cannot increase your rent when the lease is active abruptly. You agree that the amount must be honored until the lease expires. However, the landlords can legally raise the rent when the terms are over. According to Oklahoma administrative code, they should give notice between 30 and 90 days before the deadline. This time should be enough to look for another apartment that you can comfortably afford without being served with an eviction notice.
Collection of a security deposit
Before moving into a rental unit, most landlords will want to collect more money, probably an extra month’s rent. This money is usually used as a guarantee to facilitate repairs for damages that the renter may have caused to the property. It comes in handy in instances such as an eviction whereby the renter may be adamant about paying for the repairs.
This state law is applied differently depending on where one intends to lease an apartment. Some states have stipulated specific amounts as security deposits, as there is no federal law that gives guidelines on the limits that a landlord can charge for a security deposit. Be conversant with the local laws and be watchful that you are not charged extra.
According to the state laws, landlords should charge an equal amount to all. Nobody should be exempted or given lighter pay. However, the tenant law grants the property owner the right to increase the security deposit when it is justified, for example, when the renter owns a pet.
When you move out, the security deposit is refunded by the landlord. You should receive the total amount. If you are given less than that, the landlord will offer you documentation on which repairs the landlord will cater for the absent amount.
Right to demand needed repairs.
It is within a tenant’s right to reside in a properly functioning house. The landlord is supposed to make repairs whenever the renter makes a report. Some state laws require the tenant to fill out an official statement and allow property owners 14 days to act. Failure to do so may attract legal action.
In usa.gov instances where the landlord does not fulfill their obligation to make the repairs, it would be best to withhold rent, as it is against federal laws.
Right to a Proper Eviction Procedure
The eviction process is never in any renter’s plans, but a tenant’s rights stipulate how it should be run when it happens.
The state laws give reasons why the property owner may serve you with an eviction notice, such as:
- Unpaid rent
- Significant damage to property
- Violation of the lease agreement
It also gives reasons that a landlord may not evict you for, such as:
- Unpaid rent due to an illness from a neglected health hazard in the rental unit.
A proper eviction starts with a written eviction notice. The hearing comes after a court appearance. It would be best if you seek legal representation. The attorney’s fees are high. Therefore, be ready to spend.
Many landlord-tenant relationships end sour, but you can change the narrative. It takes two, property owners and renters, to make it work. Landlords are most likely to fulfill their legal responsibilities when the tenant makes an effort to become a good renter.
Here are some tips for being a good tenant.
- Honesty is crucial when applying.
- Do not be in a rush. Read the lease carefully before signing.
- Do not accrue unpaid rents.
- Observe good hygiene.
- Communicate openly with the landlord.