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Tenant Rights Guide: Do You Know Your Basic Rights as a Tenant?

July 22, 2011 | Apartment Lifestyle, Everyday Living

The apartment search can be an intimidating process. You could be dealing with real estate brokers, landlords and building managers that might sometimes seem as though they don’t have your best interest in mind. Whether you’re looking for apartments for rent or having issues with your current landlord, this handy list of basic rights as a tenant should help. Knowing what to expect from a landlord will help you through any difficult conversations you may need to have.

Tenant Rights Guide:

  1. Discrimination: During the application process, if you find yourself denied for an application, you deserve to know why. It is illegal for any landlord to deny an application on the basis of discrimination, and Federal law states that you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, familial status (including not allowing children, discrimination against pregnant women), physical disability, mental disability (including alcoholism and past drug addiction), marital status, or sexual orientation.

  2. “Habitable” Premises: When on the hunt for a new home, you might have come across some properties that are slightly less than appealing. It may help to know that there is actually a law that dictates that tenants have the right to live in a “habitable” or clean environment. A habitable space means that the core infrastructure of water, plumbing, heating and electrical systems in good order and that the unit is reasonably protected from the weather. This also includes infestations of vermin such as cockroaches or mice. As a tenant, you have the right to live in a safe and clean environment that is not in violation of any health codes or housing code standards.

  3. Safety: While living in a rented property, remember that your safety should be the priority of your landlord. Smoke detectors must be installed within ten feet of each bedroom and should be clearly audible and visible to tenants. In addition, each door to any entrances of the property should be equipped with a working lock. Tenants are allowed to add their own locks, but must provide a copy of the key to any property managers or landlords. If either one of these laws are not being followed, notify your landlord right away so they can address the problem.

  4. Right to Privacy: As a tenant, you are guaranteed privacy within your home. According to the law, nobody should be entering your apartment without you knowing and without your permission. However, it’s important to note that a landlord may enter a tenant’s property if they give prior notice and within reasonable time. Landlords are also within their right to enter an apartment if repairs or services to the property need to be made, or if the landlord is showing the property to prospective tenants. Lastly, in the case of an emergency, the landlord may enter without the tenant’s consent.

Whether you’re looking for property rentals or are already renting a property, you should always be aware of what your rights are as a tenant—and being well-educated is the best way to make sure you are getting the most out of your renting experience!

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