Tenants Rights

What must a landlord do?

The landlord must:

  • Keep the home up to local building code
  • Keep the home so that you can safely live in it
  • Give you written notice before ending the lease
  • Not enter the home without telling you in advance, unless it is an emergency

What must a tenant do?

The tenant must:

  • Keep the home clean
  • Not change the home unless the landlord says it is okay
  • Pay rent when due
  • Give the landlord notice before moving out
  • Obey the lease
  • Tell the landlord about any problems with the home

Common sense, a good lease, and local, state, and federal laws protect your tenant rights. Understanding your legal rights is a critical advantage that can help you to avoid, meet, and overcome rental problems.

Common sense is a personal attribute requiring consistent exercise. Obtain a receipt for payments to a landlord or use checks or money orders that can be verified. Read and understand anything you are asked to sign. Get a copy of anything you sign. An application to rent is not a lease and is not binding until confirmed by a lease. If you pay a security deposit with an application, you may lose the deposit if you decide not to rent the apartment after you are approved. Giving notice that you do not wish to rent an apartment before notification of approval should justify return of the deposit unless specifically denied by terms of the application or oral notice. An administrative fee may be charged for a credit check and would be nonrefundable.

Each party should read, understand, sign, and receive a copy of a lease. A lease is a legal document describing the relationship, obligations, and prohibitions of a relationship between a landlord and a tenant.

Remember that most landlords are decent, hardworking business people who desire a positive relationship with their tenants and a profit from their rentals. A few landlords create problems for some of their tenants. Resolving problems amicably in honest discussion is preferable, but if disagreements are not resolved easily, additional steps and remedies may be necessary. For minor disagreements, courts are a poor solution. If a disagreement and/or problems are major, courts may be the only solution. Often, non-renewal of a lease is the easiest ending to a bad relationship.