Do you have a clear understanding of the legal line between you and your landlord? Knowing your renter’s rights is an important part of being a responsible renter. We’ve got the straight talk, here.
Though renter’s rights differ by state, most places in the U.S. require a landlord to supply a habitable home in exchange for rent money. “Habitable” means a place that is safe and livable, with basic amenities like these:
In most municipalities, a landlord cannot revoke an amenity that was present at the time of the lease, such as air conditioning or Wi-Fi, without a change to the rental agreement or a 30- to 60-day notice in a month-to-month tenancy.
In most states, landlords can only enter your rental property under very specific circumstances and, ideally, only with advance notice to you, except perhaps during an emergency. Not all states require this notice, however.
With your permission, a landlord can enter the premises to make repairs, to determine if repairs are necessary, or to show your rental to prospective tenants or purchasers. In some states, a landlord may also enter a rental if the tenant has had a prolonged absence (seven days or more in some cases) to make sure that the property is secure.
You can check to see what kind of advanced notice your state requires of a landlord before he or she can enter your rental.
Because your landlord is responsible for keeping your rental livable, getting major repairs taken care of is typically a straightforward process. But the responsibility for smaller repairs is harder to define. Items like peeling paint or a leaky faucet could be a matter of controversy. For your rights as a renter when it comes to minor repairs, you can check your lease, local codes and local landlord-tenant laws.
Your landlord can’t just decide to put you and your belongings out on the street without following the rules of eviction. You must be given an opportunity to pay missed rent or remedy other lease violations. Your landlord must provide appropriate notice of the eviction proceeding over a defined period of time. These termination notices are known generally as “Pay Rent or Quit” notices or “Cure or Quit” notices. However, if you are a repeat offender, have caused significant damage to the property, or engaged in illegal activity there, you may receive an “Unconditional Quit” notice, which means you have no legal choice but to vacate.
Each state has its own specific laws on what a landlord needs to do to win a lease termination and successfully serve eviction papers. In some states, a landlord can terminate a tenancy without cause, as long as they’ve provided the statutory notice — typically 30 or 60 days, or longer.
Knowing your rights as a renter is important. To take the reins in resolving a tenancy issue with your landlord, familiarize yourself with the tenant-landlord laws in your state today.