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Do You Know Your Rental Rights? Here are 7 Things to Know as a Tenant

Most people who are renting have no idea that they have rights as tenants. These rights help answer questions such as “Can my service dog live with me?” “Is my landlord allowed to enter my apartment anytime he wishes to do so?”

Rights of tenants may also vary depending on the terms stated on the least. Nevertheless, there are certain rights that apply to all tenants. This article outlines 7 rights you need to know as a tenant.

1. A landlord should tell you if your rental application got denied because of bad credit.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord should let you know that he found some information on your credit report that prompted him to deny your lease application.

Regardless of what this piece of negative credit information is, you need to be told by the landlord within 60 days that you are allowed to provide him a written request. This request will be for the landlord to inform you what information he found and where he obtained it. Knowing the errors in your credit report helps you correct them.

2. You have the right to live in a habitable space.

In every state, tenants are entitled to live in a home that is habitable regardless of the amount of rent that they pay. It’s important that you have a home that meets your health and safety needs.

For example, your roof should be intact so that it can protect you from the outside elements. Your electrical and plumbing should operate safely and that your place should not be infested with any kind of pest.

3. A landlord cannot refuse access to a service dog.

Tenants find it stressful to inform their landlords that they have a service animal with them. Because, in a lot of cases, landlords would have a “no pet” policy and charge monthly pet fees.

If you own a service animal, know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that service animals are allowed to go where their owners would go. This includes places that normally prohibit animals such as restaurants and apartments. Rejecting a tenant because he has a service animal is considered discrimination.

Furthermore, a landlord should exempt you from monthly pet fees.

4. You have the right to privacy and a landlord should not violate this.

Perhaps the worst kind of landlords are those who enter your rental unit without asking for your permission. He would tell you that he can barge in your home whenever he wants. As a tenant, you are entitled to privacy rights.

You should be given prior notice by your landlord in case he needs to enter your apartment for reasons like repairs and showing the unit to a future tenant. A reasonable time that a landlord can enter a unit without prior notice is when there are emergency situations such as fires, flooding, and gas leaks.  

5. You are protected against different kinds of discrimination.

Yes, landlords would normally screen tenants, but they are not allowed to discriminate based on several categories such as the presence of a physical or mental disability, gender, color, age, marital status, public and rental assistance, and the fact that you have kids.

It’s important that landlords use objective criteria in the tenant screening process. All tenants are to undergo the same screening process so that there are consistent standards in place.

When it comes to advertisements, it’s not right for a landlord to use phrases like “no children allowed” or “no handicap access.” In fact, landlords should make reasonable modifications for disabled tenants when necessary.

6. A landlord should honor state and federal laws regarding security deposits.

Security deposits are advanced payments that landlords collect from tenants. Their purpose is to protect landlords in case tenants violate the rental agreement or damages anything in the rental property.

Different states may have various upper limits for security deposits and landlords are required to follow them. Doing so promotes equilibrium. If you think that you are being charged a high security deposit and that your state does not have limits, try to look around to know how much other landlords are charging.

7. You should be warned about the presence of lead-based paint in your unit.  

Lead is toxic and has harmful effects on people’s health, especially children. Children are prone to lead poisoning since they tend to put their hands anywhere and into their mouths.

The problem is that a lot of homes that were built before the 1960s or 1978 contain lead-based paint. Federal law requires landlords to disclose the presence of lead paint to tenants if they are aware that it is on their property. Violation results in a civil penalty.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many things you need to keep in mind when renting a new home. Rental rights will help you feel more secure and happier in your unit. Good landlords are aware of your rights and ensure that they meet them from the start.

Are you interested to increase your knowledge of landlording? We invite you to sign-up for our Landlord Prep: Video E-Course and How-To Tutorials. This will grant you access to a complete DIY landlording course as well as landlord forms/templates so you can stay knowledgeable and confident as a landlord.