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What are Tenant Rights?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Tenant's rights are rights and legal protections under the law which are extended to renters. They are also known as “renter's rights.” Landlords also have specific rights and protections. Both sets of laws are designed to ensure that renters and landlords fulfill their responsibilities to each other, and create a system for handling disputes and other issues which may arise. Tenant rights vary depending on the region in which you live; it is an excellent idea to learn about your rights now, before you need them in a dispute with your landlord.

Landlord-tenant laws cover a number of issues, ranging from how much a landlord can request for a security deposit to the correct procedures for eviction. Many organizations help to promote tenant's rights, and work with tenants and landlords to reach amicable resolutions to disputes. These groups also monitor things like illegal clauses in leases and other violations of the law. A tenant's rights organization can also help a tenant with legal issues like finding a lawyer and going to court, if necessary. These groups may also help mediate roommate disputes as well, in some cases.

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In regions with highly pressured housing markets, violations of tenant rights are unfortunately very common. Landlords in these areas are fully aware that they can quickly find renters for their units. As a result, they may demand deposits which are excessive, or they may not follow the letter of the law when asking tenants to leave. This can be frustrating for tenants, and it is important for them to learn their rights and fight back because this improves conditions for all tenants.

Some things which are included in tenant rights are: lease agreements, health and safety protections, systems for handling complaints by tenants and landlords, rent control, personal rights, reasonable charges, deposits, the process for legal termination of a lease, pets, and other issues like measures for handicapped tenants. Some of these measures can get quite complex, especially when it comes to issues like the legal way to terminate a lease agreement.

Some regions have stronger tenant rights than others. California, for example, is well-known for having a powerful legal code to protect tenants which also protects landlords. Both landlords and tenants have legal, ethical, and financial responsibilities to each other, and tenant's rights outline these responsibilities while ensuring that there are ways to ensure that these responsibilities are fulfilled by both sides. Plain-language explanations of regional landlord-tenant rights are often available from state attorney generals, public assistance offices, and other elected officials.

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