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In the US, what are Some Rights of Renters?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Renters of apartments or single-family dwellings often aren’t aware of the basic rights of renters. These do vary from state to state, but most states have several rights in common. Landlord violation of rights of renters can sometimes be challenging to change. It is first important to know the state laws that are applicable to you and your type of dwelling. Also, documenting any potential violations in writing is extremely important.

According to most state codes, one of the most undisputed rights of renters is the right to privacy. Except in an emergency situation or abandonment of a property, a landlord cannot enter your property without prior notification, usually at least 24 hours. A landlord is not allowed to enter your property without such notice, and would be committing breaking and entering by doing so.

However, along with this right comes your responsibility to allow the landlord access to the property, should he or she give appropriate notice. In most cases, this is fairly informal. The landlord calls and says he needs to come fix the plumbing, and you’re there to let him in. The landlord can enter the property when you are not home, with 24 hours notice.

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Another of the basic rights of renters is access to a pest free home. This means your apartment or home should be clear of cockroaches, fleas, rodents, or ants prior to your occupying the property. Further, the landlord must continue to provide you with a pest free home unless you or your animals are responsible for the introduction of new pests through pets. Usually, people who have pets cannot require their landlord to keep their home free of fleas, for example.

Basic rights of renters also include access to hot and cold water, and facilities to provide heat and electricity. Technically, it is illegal in most states for a landlord to rent a facility that does not provide such access. Many states further require access to cooking facilities among the rights of renters. If the landlord provides washers, dryers, refrigerators or stoves, these must be kept in good repair, as well.

Not all landlords must pay for heat or electricity as part of the rights of renters. The decision of who makes this payment tends to be written in any rental or lease agreement. However, if the landlord does pay for these things, then he cannot shut them off if the person is behind in rent. He can, however, issue eviction notices almost immediately if a person doesn’t pay all of their past due rent.

In apartments, the rights of renters also include access to garbage facilities. These need to be appropriately maintained and accessible. Further, all common areas must be kept clean, safe, and in good repair. Further the rights of renters include the ability to sue the landlord should the renter or guests of the renter be injured as a result of potentially dangerous areas of the property. Asking a tenant to waive this right is generally illegal.

The rights of renters also include provisions for when repairs need to be undertaken. For example if water, electricity or heat becomes unavailable, repairs generally must begin within 24 hours notification of the problem. Sometimes, in emergency situations, repairs might be impossible through no fault of the landlord. Often, however, the landlord must initiate repairs almost immediately after being notified. Each state sets its own guidelines on when it is possible to withhold rent and pay for repairs on one’s own if the landlord refuses to repair property.

Most importantly, landlords are barred from evicting or raising the rent of tenants who request needed repairs. In many states, landlords must give 60-90 days notice prior to a raise in rent. However, people who rent on a month-to-month basis may have more difficulty proving that an eviction was not recriminatory, unless the landlord has an established history of violating the rights of renters.

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krisinua
Post 8

I just moved into this condo last week. My cats now have fleas and are indoor and have never had fleas before now. I am so upset. My cats have been through hell and hate it here, I just took them to the vet a month ago to get them checked and blood tested and now I have to take them again so I can bomb this place. I know they got the fleas from this place.

I also have millions of ants outside on the walls of my condo and inside, as well in the entire side of the condo. I cannot leave my windows open now, and I randomly see them on my ceilings and on me and

I am disgusted. I chose this stupid place because it is almost brand new and I was scared of older places having roaches.

I called maintenance four days ago and emailed the property management company and nothing has been done, and there has been no call back. I hate it here. There is no sunlight here besides two hours in the mornings, no birds for my cats to look, no breeze, etc. I want out, but I signed a form saying if I break the year lease I have to pay two months rent of $1,700, plus lose my $850 deposit. What do I do? I was thinking of asking if I can move, but I need that money and can’t risk being sued. Or I was thinking of telling them I’m taking half off the rent for next month to do all of this crap myself, hire an exterminator and take my cats to the vet. The flea meds already cost me $70 and they are still here. I see them. Help. I am in Southwest Florida, by the way.

anon332148
Post 7

I took the apartment to rent without a lease. Instead, I was asked to pay a security deposit of the amount equal to the monthly rent. I have moved out of the house but the landlord refuses to pay me back my security deposit. What should I do now?

anon276585
Post 6

We have electric wires dangling in the closets and most outlets don't work. Besides, there are mice galore. We have complained to the landlord, but we're going on three months and so far nothing has been done. He has a broken jacuzzi that was supposed to be removed. Well so far, it's still there.

troystout
Post 5

Do I need to settle with the landlord spraying for ants himself and not hiring a professional for the job? I already have an ant infestation in the house that is no fault of my own and I am very concerned about the job getting done right without my health being compromised by him spraying inside and him just trying to save a buck on my expense. Can I do anything to get a professional?

anon45368
Post 4

if i were you, i'd tell the owner to send a company over to spray first and if that don't work, i'd try to find me another place and by the way don't kill them. you're just making more eggs when you kill them yourself. a person doesn't have to live like this.

anon33226
Post 3

Gave deposit to Landlord, haven't signed lease but found cockroaches first night. Told Landlord who denied infestation. Am leaving...she won't give me my deposit...

Any comments on getting it back?

anon11503
Post 2

Anyone can contact HUD which is Housing and Urban Development. You can get number from the phone book, it is in the government section. Tenants have the right to live in a habitable environment. You can contact your local Housing Department for an immediate inspection of your apartment. I encourage anyone having problems like this to report there complaints.

anon1729
Post 1

I was wondering if anyone can help me?? I just moved into an apartment and there are cockroaches here..I've spent about $50 on sprays and jels..I really don't know if my apartment is infested/ I've been here for a month and i killed about 6 and my fiance seen them in the laundry room..the laundry room is down on the groud floor and we are on the third so the building must be infested ..I have no pets or any thing.. I just want to know what my rights are.. I can't live with roaches and i also have a little child.

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