Whether you are renting property for commercial or for residential purposes, it's important to understand the legal rights available to you. Knowing your tenant rights can help prevent you from being taken advantage of, or from making an uninformed decision if a problem arises. Below are some of the most important rights you need to know if you are a tenant.
1. The Right to Not Be Discriminated Against
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants for reasons such as race, religion, national origin, disability, familial status, ethnicity, gender and other similar things. If you believe that you have been discriminated against by a landlord, then you can file a lawsuit against them.
2. The Right to Privacy
Tenants are entitled to a level of privacy that is reasonable. A landlord does have the right to enter the property, but usually, notice and forewarning is required. So, for example, a landlord cannot just show up in the middle of the night at your department and demand entry. This would be a violation of the right to privacy for tenants. If this or a similar situation happens to you, then you can get the police involved to protect your right to privacy if need be.
3. The Right to a Habitable Home
This means that the landlord needs to make sure that there aren't any things like holes in the floor or an excessive rodent problem in the property. If there is, then you can get the police involved or file a lawsuit in order to enforce your tenant right to a habitable home. There are other things that can make a home inhabitable besides rodents and holes in the floor. Such other things include toxic mold, dangerous items such as rusty nails sticking out of the wall, etc. All of these things could potentially make a home inhabitable.
4. The Right to a Reasonable Security Deposit
Many landlords require security deposits to be paid in order for tenants to move into properties. However, many tenants do not realize that there are often limitations as to how much landlords can charge for these security deposits. So, if you feel that the security deposit that your landlord is trying to charge you is unreasonable, then you may be right. In such a situation, you should check with your state government to see what the limits are for security deposits. You may just be able to get your security deposit amount lowered.
5. The Right to Be Protected from Illegal Lease Clauses
Occasionally, corrupt landlords may try to put clauses in leases that are illegal, thinking that you may not be aware of your rights. However, if a landlord puts an illegal clause in a lease, then it is not legally enforceable, and you are therefore not obligated to adhere to it. An example of this would be if a lease says that it’s the tenant’s responsibility to make major repairs to make the property habitable, such as fixing broken radiators or water heaters. Such actions are almost always the landlord’s responsibility, according to the law. Therefore, even if the landlord tried to put this responsibility on you, it would not be legally enforceable.
6. The Right to Not Have Sudden Rent Price Hikes
If a landlord and a tenant have each signed a lease for a certain rent price, then this price must be kept the same until the lease period expires. So, for example, if your lease is for $800 a month for 12 months, then your landlord will not be able to raise the rent price until after that 12-month period expires. Tenants at will, however, who do not have leases with set time periods, are not subject to the same protection against rent price hikes.
Tenant rights are a very important form of protection for people who rent property from others. The goal of tenant rights is to protect tenants from being treated unfairly. If you are facing any sort of dispute as a tenant, then you should always check your tenant rights first to know what power you have.