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Property Renters' Rights and Responsibilities

The conflicts between a tenant and a landlord stem primarily from a few, basic issues. Primary among them are the basics like paying rent on time and also keeping the rented unit as clean as possible. In short, some of the most common disputes between a tenant and a landlord come from simple issues that mere common sense or common courtesy can usually address. A tenant’s responsibilities come down to paying the rent on time, purchasing renter’s insurance, giving early notifications to the landlord, keeping the premises clean, and even maintaining the upkeep of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Lease agreements

A lease agreement is a contract that requires the lessee (the renter) to pay the lessor (the landlord) for the use of an asset. In the case of rental agreements, the asset is the tangible property of the rented apartment. The responsibilities of the tenant in a lease agreement include keeping the property clean, paying for damages arising out of his own neglect, notifying the landlord in advance in case there are repair needs, and not breaking the terms of the lease. The landlord’s responsibilities include not interfering with a tenant’s right to quiet and lawful usage of the property, following all discrimination laws like those related to age or race, and ensuring that the rented property adheres to housing codes.

Questions to Ask Before Renting:   A comprehensive list

Renter’s Tips: 10 basic tips every renter should know.

Fundamental Terms for any Lease Agreement: A guide on what makes a good lease agreement.

Familiarity with the Landlord and Tenant Act: Information on understanding the Landlord and Tenant Act, an important part of a lease agreement.

What to Include in Your Lease Agreement: Forbes article on what every lease agreement should possess.

 

Security deposits

Security deposits are defined as funds that are paid in advance to guard against instances of either non-payment or damage to the unit. These deposits are commonly equal to the monthly rent payment, and they are taken from a renter before she moves in. A tenant’s responsibilities with respect to security deposits include insisting on a move-in as well as move-out inspection with the landlord (which involves taking pictures and making notes about the condition of the unit), giving the landlord a 30-day notice of moving out, and turning the keys to the unit in to the landlord on time. Conversely, the landlord’s responsibilities include not deducting from the security deposit for a tenant’s normal wear and tear of the unit and also providing the tenant a written and itemized explanation of any deductions from the deposit.

Know Your Renter’s Rights – Security Deposits: Explains the details of security deposits.

Rental Security Deposits – Key Issue for Tenants and Landlords: Explains security deposits from the viewpoint of both tenants and landlords.

Security Deposit as Final Rent Payment?: Briefly explores the phenomenon of renters using their security deposit as their final rent payment.

Getting Your Rental Security Deposit Returned: Advise on how renters can get their security deposit returned after moving out.

Changes to Law Give Tenants More Security Deposit Protection: Information on how changes to law have helped tenants regarding their security deposits.

 

When Can Rent Be Increased

When rent can be increased all depends on the situation. For instance, if a tenant has only a month-to-month lease agreement with her landlord, then the landlord can increase the rent whenever she wants. She only has to give the tenant a notice of 30 days. Laws on this vary from state to state, but one way that tenants can guard themselves against landlords who increase the rent is through rent controls. However, the tenant has to be in a state or in a building that has such price-control regulations or ordinances.

Information for Tenants Facing Rent Increase: All the basics tenants should know if they’re facing rent increases.

The Site – Increasing Costs: Tips on what to do if you are facing a rent increase.

Rent Increases as They Relate to Tenant’s Rights: Information on different scenarios that can occur due to rent increases.

Settlement – How often can a Landlord Increase the Rent?: Provides basic information about the frequency that landlords can increase rent.

 

Roommates

Roommates are much of the time not even covered in most states’ tenant laws. Therefore, the biggest priority between renters who want to become roommates is to work out the terms of their shared living environment together. This means that it will be helpful to draw up an informal terms of agreement just between the roommates. Additionally, when signing a lease agreement with a landlord, it is advised to sign both of the roommates’ names on the lease, which protects them if the landlord wants to impose occupancy limits. The responsibilities of roommates and landlords to one another is the same as in any renter-landlord arrangement.

Accountabilities of Roommates: Talks about the responsibilities of roommates or co-tenants.

Q & A on Dealing with Roommates: Answers a question about the legality of roommates kicking out another roommate.

The Responsibilities of Tenants, Roommates and Landlords: What all three parties should do to ensure peace.

The Rights of Roommates Versus Those of Tenants: Presents an issue of a roommate suing a tenant.

 

Housing discrimination

Housing discrimination occurs when the landlord refuses to rent a property to a potential tenant because of certain attributes a tenant cannot help. These include skin color, creed, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other personal attribute. The responsibilities of a landlord in this respect include making sure to follow anti-discrimination laws to the letter. On the other hand, the responsibilities of a potential tenant involve telling the landlord about their personal attribute if special accommodations need to be made, or to simply avoid any misunderstandings later on.

Discussion of Fair Housing Rights: Information about how landlords cannot discriminate in choosing renters.

Civil Rights – Fair Housing Laws: All about the rights of individuals not to have to face discrimination when renting properties.

Federal Law Involving Housing Discrimination: Provides a basic and useful definition of housing discrimination and what to look for if it’s happening to you.

Federal Law and Housing Discrimination: Discusses the federal law that should, in theory, prevent housing discrimination from occurring.

Housing Discrimination – Disability: Information for crippled people on their rights against housing discrimination.

 

Privacy and safety

Landlords can only enter the rented unit of a tenant in some special circumstances, such as when there is a fire or other emergency. While landlords cannot enter a tenant’s unit without first giving him notice of a valid reason to enter, the tenant can of course allow a landlord into his apartment. Therefore, the responsibilities of a landlord with regards to privacy and safety include him entering only when there is an emergency, or only after first giving the tenant a valid reason for his intent to enter. On the flip side, the tenant has a responsibility to allow the landlord entry if the entrance is for a valid reason like making repairs and if it is during ordinary business hours.

Tenant Privacy against Landlord Access: Outlines when landlords can enter and how much privacy is a factor.

Right of Entry, Right of Privacy: Proceeds in a balanced discussion on the rights of tenants and landlords.

Privacy Rights Between Tenants and Landlords: Short information about the rights to privacy of tenants.

Tenant Privacy Balanced with Landlord Access: Discusses the rights tenants have regarding privacy, juxtaposed with the rights of entry that landlords enjoy.

Repairs

Repairs are a necessary part of tenant-landlord life, and there are rules and laws in place to, at least in intent, make it easier on both parties. The responsibility of a tenant with regards to making repairs is that he has to pay for the repairs himself if he or a guest has caused the need for repairs; he must also tell the landlord immediately. A tenant also has to give his landlord access to make the repairs, especially if the landlord was abiding by the law and gave 24-hour notice in advance. The landlord has the responsibility to both inspect a rented unit and then make repairs if so justified.

Right to Repair Act Information: Details on how tenants should go about repairs under the law.

Issues Regarding Repairs: Lists the situations when landlords are mandated to repair things for their tenants.

Repairs in a Tenant-Landlord Relationship: Talks about who is responsible between tenants and landlords regarding repairs.

Succeeding at Getting Repairs Accomplished: Handbook that advises renters on how to proceed with repairs.

 

Emergencies and natural disasters

Emergencies like fires or leaks obligate a landlord to enter any rented apartment without giving notice first. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the tenant to be accommodating and understanding, and permit entry. In the case of natural disasters, the lease agreement still does not end even if the premises are destroyed; the reason is for the agreement to officially end, one party has to take actual action to end it. If a building is considered non-livable after a natural disaster, then the landlord still has to officially give the renter a notice that terminates the lease agreement due to the non-livable state of the building.

Article on Tenant Aid after Natural Disaster: Informs the reader when aid is available after a natural disaster.

Tenant and Landlord Relations during Natural Disasters: Informational article on the tenant’s rights during a natural disaster.

Renter’s Insurance during Hurricane: Offers renters tips on how to get coverage for natural disasters.

Tenant/Landlord Law Governing Natural Disasters: Quick information on what rights the tenant has with regards to his landlord in the case of a disaster.

 

Renter's insurance as protection

Renter’s insurance is quite fundamental as a means of the renter protecting his possessions against loss stemming from a number of happenings. It is really the responsibility of the renter to acquire renter’s insurance because the landlord is not at all responsible for the loss of personal property in the apartment of the tenant. Renter’s insurance will cover the renter against a broad range of problems. These include perils like fire, vandalism, hail, vehicle-caused damage, robbery, glass breakage, civil commotion, and personal liability. Excluded are natural disasters like earthquakes.

Is Renter’s Insurance Necessary?: Write-up that explores if renter’s insurance is needed.

Basic of Renter's Insurance: A primer

 

Eviction and Breaking Lease

A tenant commonly breaks a lease when she needs to move or gets a new job, and there is nothing in the law that prevents a tenant from actually breaking a lease. Still, a responsibility of the tenant is to actually help the landlord find a new tenant when she breaks the lease early. This is referred to as mitigating damages. The landlord also has a responsibility under this mitigating damages principle, and it involves making a legitimate effort to re-rent the property by way of advertising it.

Breaking Lease on a Rental Property: Practical instructions helping tenants who want to break a lease.

Terminating the Tenancy: Advice on what the responsibilities are for tenants who end an agreement.

Different Kinds of Eviction Notices: A list of different eviction notices that tenants may receive.

Eviction: The Legal Process to make you move: Information on how tenants should handle an eviction notice.

Federal Law for the Protection of Renters: News item about the federal law signed by Barack Obama that is meant to protect renters even if their landlords have undergone foreclosure.

 

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