Knowing Your Rights as a Renter

As a renter, you have rights guaranteed to you by your local and state jurisdiction. Unfortunately, many renters never take the time to learn what their rights are and, as a result, they often get taken advantage of by some unscrupulous landlords. Here are some common rights that you should know about as a renter.

1. Your landlord cannot hold onto your security or damage deposit due to normal wear and tear in your apartment. The security and damage deposit is only for damages that are not the result of normal wear and tear. In some states, the landlord is required to give an itemized list of any repairs made using the security deposit.

2. If your space becomes uninhabitable due to the landlord's negligence or neglect, you may be able to legally break your lease without paying any of the early termination penalties.

3. Your landlord has to give you a proper notice before they enter into your apartment unless it is to make an emergency repair. Proper notice is typically 24 hours.

4. You cannot be evicted from your apartment simply by making a complaint against a landlord for a violation that they are guilty of.

5. You cannot be evicted without a court order. This also means that the landlord cannot shut off your utilities or change the locks until you have been legally evicted from your apartment.

6. Some states do not allow the landlord to stipulate that the tenant is responsible for the landlord's attorney fees if there is a dispute that ends up in court.

7. Even if you have been evicted from your apartment, your landlord is required to refund any unused portion of your security deposit to you within 30 days. This means that any portion of your security deposit that was not used for repairs should be given back to you in a timely manner.

8. Rental units must meet the local code before the landlord can legally rent them out to tenants.

Before renting an apartment or some other rental unit, know your rights. There are many local resources available for tenants to research their rights so they do not get treated unfairly.

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