When you rent a home, you may be focused on what you will owe the landlord, not only in terms of money, but in terms of taking care of the property and behaving in an acceptable manner on the premises. Though these are important to note, you also have your own rights as a renter. Make sure you know these rights when renting a home.
Rights Regarding Discrimination
You are protected against discrimination under federal anti-discrimination law. You cannot have a rental space denied to you based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, whether you have children, or whether one of the renters is pregnant. You also cannot be denied because of physical disability and mental disability, which includes alcoholism and drug addiction. Many state laws protect you against being discriminated against because of your marital status or because of your sexual orientation as well.
Rights Regarding the Property
The dwelling must be safe, including being in compliance with state and local codes and zoning ordinances. You also have the right to request repairs to keep the place safe and livable. This includes requesting the removal of mold. You have a right to request that non-working appliances be repaired or replaced. Heating and air conditioning systems must be in working order. The same applies to toilets and the hot water heater.
- All door locks must be operable.
- The roof must be free of leaks.
- All windows must be in working order and cannot be sealed shut.
A home security package is not required by law, but ask your landlord if such security is in place. Should landlords provide home security for their tenants? Though the jury might still be out on that answer, you can find out more about what systems will best fit your new living space here.
Rights Regarding Money and the Lease
You have a right to know the landlord's name, address, and phone number. If you are dealing with a property manager, you also deserve to know that individual's contact information. You should be told the exact amount of the rent and where it should be paid. If you rent the property with another party, you are both fully responsible for the rent. If you are required to pay a deposit, you have a right to know what the deposit covers. You can ask how much of the deposit will be deducted when you move out, and you deserve to know if the deposit can be used for unpaid rent. Also, you have a right to understand what qualifies as "damage" and what is normal wear and tear.
Rights Regarding Privacy
In most leases, the landlord reserves the right to enter the property and inspect it. You, however, have a right to know if the landlord must give you notice before entering the premises.
When you rent, you are not completely at the mercy of your landlord's wishes. In fact, you have numerous rights. Be sure you know those rights and insist on having them honored.