Even in areas that seem more landlord-friendly, renters do have rights. Every renter should understand what their rights are and what options they have if their rights are not upheld. For the most part, the landlord would need to be sued in court if tenant rights aren’t upheld.
Knowing the local laws is important as this allows renters to learn what landlords can and can’t do. No matter where renters live, however, they do have the following rights.
Residence Must be Habitable for Tenants
Tenant rights included the ability to live in a habitable unit. This means that there should not be any broken doors or windows, that the roof must be in good condition, that the electric and plumbing work properly, and that the unit is free from pests.
The unit does not have to be in perfect condition, but it should be safe to live in and free from major issues. If there are any issues, the tenant should first ask the landlord for repairs to be done.
Repairs Done in Timely Manner
Another right is for timely repairs. Issues can appear after the unit has been rented for a while. A pipe could burst, for example, through no fault of the renter. If this happens, the renter should immediately contact the landlord for repairs.
The landlord must handle the repairs in a timely manner. This does not mean the next day, but it does mean the repairs should be done as soon as possible. If the repairs aren’t done quickly, renters can send the landlord a certified letter requesting the repairs be done.
Tenant Rights to Notification Before Entry
Landlords must notify renters before they enter a unit. The amount of time needed between the notification and the entry does vary by location, but most places require 24-hour notice.
One exception to this is if the renter requests repairs. They can set up a time for the landlord to inspect the issue without the landlord having to supply a notice ahead of time.
The biggest exception to this is for an emergency. It does need to be a true emergency and there must be a potential for serious damages or loss of life if the landlord or their representative doesn’t enter the unit immediately.
An example of this might be water running into the apartment below. The landlord may need to enter the upper unit immediately to turn off the water and repair the leak before there is more water damage and structural damage to the building.
Limits on Rent Increases
Rent cannot just be increased by any amount at any time. This is true for rent-controlled areas as well as areas without rent control. In rent-controlled areas, the rent can only increase yearly and only by a certain amount. This helps to prevent significant increases each year that could mean renters can no longer afford to live there.
In areas where there is no rent control, the landlords may have more leeway when it comes to increasing the rent, as there aren’t limitations on the amount of the increase.
However, they cannot increase the rent before the lease has ended, with very few exceptions. If the lease is yearly, then the rent can only be increased once per year.
Renter’s Rights to Their Security Deposit
Renters should receive their security deposit back at the end of the lease, though funds can be taken from the security deposit to cover damages to the unit.
If there is a hole in the wall caused by the tenant, for instance, part of the security deposit can be used for labor and materials to fix the hole. The security deposit cannot be used for normal wear and tear.
If the carpet looks a little worn, it’s up to the landlord to replace it and the funds to do so cannot come from the security deposit.
Landlords must provide a list of how the security deposit is being used or return the security deposit within a certain amount of time. That amount of time can vary from location to location.
If the time period has passed and the renter has not received the security deposit or list of repairs, they are entitled to receive the full security deposit back. They may need to go to court to have it returned to them.
No Unlawful Tenant Eviction
Landlords must follow local laws and evict tenants through the court system. There are a few different reasons a tenant can be evicted beyond non-payment of rent.
Typically, this is a lengthy process and can take 30 days or longer to complete. Landlords cannot turn off the water or electricity, move the renter’s items out of the unit, take the door off the unit, or do anything else to force the renter to leave.
All of these would be considered an unlawful eviction and the renter can go to court to make the landlord stop or obtain restitution for funds lost due to the unlawful eviction. An eviction attorney can help protect you from this happening.
Tenant Rights to Quiet Enjoyment
Renters have the right to quiet enjoyment of the property. Along with the landlord not being able to enter without notice, this also means that the renter shouldn’t have to worry about music being played loudly every night, noises from loud vehicles in the middle of the night, and other issues that mean the renter cannot enjoy living in the unit.
The exact specifications for what is allowed and what is not allowed can vary from location to location, so this is one that renters will need to look into for where they live. Of course, renter’s rights include protection from the nuisance of other renters in the building.
Have Your Tenant Rights Been Violated?
If you’re renting any apartment or home, you do have certain rights. The landlord cannot have you waive these rights in your lease and there are repercussions if these rights are not upheld.
It is always a good idea to look into the details for where you live, but the basic rights no matter your location include everything above. If you do ever have issues with a landlord violating one of these rights, you can go to the courts for relief.