Renting laws, both state and federal, can benefit you as a tenant. Some laws protect you against being thrown out on the streets with no warning or for no good reason. Other laws make it financially possible for you to move into an apartment in first place. It’s important to know basic tenant rights before you sign a lease agreement, and before a dispute arises with your landlord.
1 – Illegal Retaliation by Landlord
There’s a reason why your landlord won’t evict you, or at least hesitate, when you request minor or major repairs to your apartment. State renting laws make retaliation by the landlord illegal. The landlord cannot retaliate by trying to evict you, just because you ask them to make repairs. If the landlord takes you to court, you can raise “landlord retaliation” as a defense and stay in your apartment. However, you should move on to another apartment if it gets to that stage, because life will be miserable if your landlord wants to evict you because you want to make your apartment more habitable, and they don’t
2 – Limit on Security Deposit Amount
Some landlords would charge you as much as one year’s rent if they could. Renting laws restrict the amount of security deposit a landlord can ask for when you move into an apartment. States have different requirements, ranging from one to two times the amount of one month’s rent. Despite those laws, some landlords have found ways to get more money out of you in the beginning. For example, some landlords require a pet deposit, a cleaning fee or both. Some require that you pay the first three months rent before moving in. These examples are still subject to state laws, but the realty is that you can’t do much about it if you live in an area with limited rental options.
3 – Maintenance of the Premises
Your landlord may be willing to keep your apartment in a habitable condition, because they care about their tenants, but others are motivated by the consequences that result from violating state renting laws. Landlord are require by law to make the repairs necessary to keep up the apartment in a livable condition. For example, if the pipes burst in your apartment, your landlord is required by law to hire a plumber to fix the pipes or to fix it themselves if they have the skills. You have a duty to give them timely notice, and your landlord has a duty to respond. The penalties given in rental laws cause many landlords to respond to your notice, than they would otherwise.
4 – Partial Rent Payment
Paying your landlord some of your rent can often stop an eviction, because of renting laws. For example, if your landlord sends you an eviction notice, and you pay some of the rent owed, which they accept, the landlord cannot successfully continue the eviction action against you. The landlords waives their rights according to most renting laws.
Look for the landlord-tenant renting laws for the state where the apartment is locating, to learn about more laws that benefit you as the tenant.