TenantsTips / USA / What are my Renter’s Rights?

What are my Renter’s Rights?

All too often renters feel that they’re at the mercy of their landlord which they sign on the dotted line, but this is not the case.In fact, most states have laws dedicated exclusively to protecting tenants against potential abuses on the part of landlords.

Regardless of whether a renter has a great relationship with their landlord, or it’s full of issues and concerns, there is recourse for renters in the U.S.

Know the Facts Before You Sign Your Lease to rent a property

The best way to protect yourself as a renter is to research your state’s laws regarding renting a property well before you sign a lease. By being knowledgeable about your state’s laws, you’ll better be able to make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a property and signing a lease. In addition, a renter who knows the laws ahead of time will have the ability to spot red flags that may be located within a lease.

What to Do When You Move In to your rental property

After familiarizing yourself with state laws, there are certain things a renter should do immediately upon moving into a property. The most important is to photograph any damage, as well as to conduct a full tour of the property with the landlord present. This can protect against action being taken against the tenant, or the withholding of a security deposit due to preexisting damage. Additionally, renters should keep records of all correspondence that occurs with the landlord, in case it’s needed for future reference. This could include an itemized list of damage, statements reflecting all payments made and letters or notices received from a landlord.

Common Laws Regarding Renters’ Rights

Although specific laws do vary by state, there are a few laws pertinent to renters and landlords that are present, in some form, in nearly every state. A few of these include:

* The Fair Housing act which makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant on the basis of race, religion, sex and other criteria.

* Rental units are required to be in good condition that is in compliance with standards for health and safety ordinances.

* Landlords are required to give a predetermined amount of notice before entering the premises of a renter. In many states this is 24 hours.

* Eviction can’t be completed with a notice obtained through a court order. Landlords also can’t discontinue utilities or water without proper prior notice.

* A landlord is required to make necessary repairs or arrange for repairs to be completed to a unit in a timely manner.

* Deposits, including damage and security deposits, can’t be deducted to cover the cost of normal wear and tear that occurs during the process of renting a home.

These are just a few of the many laws regarding rental properties and the renter’s rights that exist in most states throughout the country.

What to Do in the Event of a Dispute

Many renters will find themselves involved in disputes of some type with their landlord, and often these can be solved easily and without legal action. It’s best for both parties to try and take every possible step to avoid litigation.

Often, if a renter has a concern and presents a landlord with the laws, and written documentation regarding their claim, it can be solved outside of court. There are also third party mediation professionals that can help tenants and landlords solve problems without legal action.

For anyone who is a current renter, or is planning to rent a home, knowledge is the most powerful tool to possess in the process. Renting a home doesn’t mean you are without rights, and in fact there are numerous laws that dictate and outline exactly what your rights are throughout the rental process.


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