Knowing your renter rights will protect you from losing money or getting ripped off. Some landlords tend to violate renter rights in the same ways. Here are some common examples to watch out for:
1. Your Landlord Asks too Much for Deposits
Your state’s law sets a limit as to much your landlord is allowed to charge you for a security, pet or other deposit. Some landlords are unaware of the laws and set deposits based on how much they want at the time, or based on what other landlords are collecting. A tenant who doesn’t know their rights might pay higher deposit amounts. Your money will be better off in your pocket than in your landlord’s bank account. Make sure to research how much deposit your landlord can collect according to the law.
2. Your Landlord Inspects Without Notice
Some tenants might find themselves renting from a landlord who wants to “watch over” the rental. They come by unannounced to check on things, or to make minor repairs. This is a violation of a renter’s right to privacy. You have a legal right to live in your apartment in peace. Intrusion by a landlord who wants to come into your apartment is a common example of how a renter’s rights are violated.
3. Your Landlord Treats Other Tenants Differently
You have the right to fair treatment by your landlord. It’s an unwritten rule that renters don’t talk about how much they’re paying in rent, or how much the landlord charged for their security deposit. However, sometimes the word does get out, and you may find out that your landlord charged you higher for both. Most state laws prohibit this practice, and landlords caught breaking those laws will find themselves in an indefensible legal position.
4. Your Landlord Doesn’t Return Your Deposit
Many renters look forward to the extra money coming their way after they vacate their old apartment. Disappointment sets in when they get an email or letter from the landlord informing them that they won’t get any of their deposit back, or only a small amount. A landlord has a right to keep any or all of your security deposit, as long as it’s legally permissible to do so. However, many landlords violate renter’s rights when they unlawfully withhold the return of a deposit. Common examples of lawful reasons to keep your deposit are:
- You didn’t pay some or all of your rent.
- You damaged the premises beyond typical use.
- You left the apartment in a mess, and the landlord had to pay to clean it.
- Your pet stained the carpets, and the landlord had to pay to replace them.
5. Your Landlord Tries to Evict You Without Notice
You have the right to be notified by your landlord (in writing) of a major breach in your lease or rental agreement. Your landlord cannot just tell you to leave without a notice, allowing you a certain amount of days to fix the problem or vacate the premises. If your right to proper notice is violated in this way, it might be best to seek the advice of an attorney as to how to remedy the situation according to your state’s law. You should also act as soon as you get an eviction notice, because your timely (or untimely) response will matter if you have to go to court.
You may ultimately have to protect yourself in court, but knowing these common examples of renter rights violations will help you spot any trouble ahead of time. Keep in mind that your landlord may genuinely be unaware he is violating your rights, and that a nicely written letter might be all that’s necessary to resolve the situation.