Renters' Rights

All Property Management Staff
RentersRights

Residents who choose to lease apartments are afforded a number of distinct rights. While many rules and regulations pertaining to tenant rights are well known by landlords, it's vital for first-time property investors to learn them to ensure they abide by the law. Even veteran property owners may want to refresh their memories about renters' rights to keep up with new mandates by local and state governments.

Tenant Privacy

Landlords can only enter a renter's unit under a few circumstances. Typically, property owners or managers can only enter a residence if:

  • they need to check for possible repairs or fix something
  • there is an emergency that affects the tenant's unit or the entire property
  • the tenant's lease will end soon and the owner wants to show the unit to prospective renters

Additionally, landlords may be allowed to enter a unit (depending on local and state laws) if a renter has been absent from their unit for an extended period of time - often, seven days or more.

Living Conditions

Renters are also granted the right to live in a clean, safe and healthy environment. It is essential for property owners and managers to keep their properties in top shape. Should a tenant deem a living space unfit, potentially due to illegal activities taking place at a property or health issues surfacing, for instance, they may have the legal merit to file a complaint against the owner.

Hiring a property management team to ensure a residence is kept in quality shape, property owners can avoid any problems from occurring with renters leasing their units.

Maintenance and Repairs

Another reason why hiring a property manager to deal with the maintenance and upkeep at a residence is to deal with repairs. Plumbing, electrical and other similar issues often arise at apartments. Having a management team in place to handle these problems can keep a property in shape, functioning and looking good. At the same time, taking care of these tasks for tenants is mandated by law.

Anytime a renter requests repairs and maintenance in their unit for appliances or utilities that came with the apartment, owners are obligated to enter the unit and ensure everything is working properly for the tenant.

Accommodations for Disabled Renters

Rules and regulations regarding disabled renters and how property owners and managers must accommodate them have evolved in recent years. According to NoLo, landlords should learn about - and keep up with - laws related to disabled tenants.

The website says landlords are not allowed to ask if someone is disabled during the application process. Additionally, should a disabled person move into one's unit, the owner may have to make a residence's conditions more livable for the renter, within reason. For instance, a ramp may need to be installed should there only be stairs at all entrances and exits at a property.

Also, renters with disabilities also have the right in certain situations to alter their units to better accommodate their disability, such as lowering counter tops for those in wheelchairs.

Security Deposit

Many states, according to MSN Real Estate, limit the amount a landlord can charge tenants for security deposits. In addition, the source indicates that "normal wear and tear" experienced in a unit cannot be covered by a renter's deposit. Instead, only substantial issues at a residence, such as a broken window that was broken by the tenant during their time living in the apartment, can be covered by the deposit.

FindLaw adds that each state generally has its own unique laws about how long a landlord has to return a security deposit to tenants. Should repairs need to be made to units which renters caused, property owners are usually required to provide tenants with a written statement showing what fixes were necessary to make at the apartment. If any money remains from the security deposit after these repairs, the site says it needs to be returned to renters.

Alternately, if no repairs are needed, security deposits should be given back to tenants as soon as possible, as to avoid legal recourse, FindLaw states.

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October 27, 2011