At some point in your life, you have probably rented an apartment. Perhaps it has been for yourself or perhaps it is for your child who is in college. You may be wondering if renters have any rights at all. This is especially true if you or your child have a less than desirable landlord.
A landlord tenant relationship should be based upon trust as well as respect. However, this is not often the case. What do you do if you have a landlord who refused to fix things when they break? What do you do if your landlord refuses to give back your security deposit when you move out of your apartment?
Here are some things that you should know to protect your rights as a renter:
- Always put your lease agreements in writing. A “verbal” lease can cause man misunderstandings. Your lease agreement should contain specifics on how much your rent will be as well as if you are responsible for utilities. The lease should also specify when your rent is due. A lease may also specify if you are allowed to have pets and what type of pets are acceptable. The more specific the lease is, the better.
- Landlords should expect some wear and tear on the apartment. A renter may be held responsible for things that are damaged which can not be considered normal wear and tear. To protect yourself, you may want to take a video of your apartment before moving in. Make sure to take pictures of any things that are damaged or in disrepair. For example, holes in the walls or ripped shades on the windows should be documented. Then, do the same when you move out.
- Get permission from the landlord to if you want to paint or make other improvements to the apartment. When you do get permission, make sure that it is in writing and specifies the types of things that can be done. For example, if your landlord agrees to let you paint your daughter’s room in pink paint, get it in writing.
- Your landlord can charge a fee on your rent if you are late paying it. This fee should be specified in the lease agreement.
- You have a right to your security deposit after you move out of your apartment. In order to make sure that you get your deposit back, you should give your landlord 30 days notice in writing if you plan to end your lease. You should receive your deposit within 45 business days after leaving the apartment.
- Your landlord must ask your permission to enter your apartment. The only way that a landlord can enter your apartment unannounced is if there is an emergency or if an item needs to be repaired immediately.
- The rights of renters vary from state to state and may be affected by other factors.
If you have a question about your rights as a renter, you should contact a lawyer who is experienced in this area of law. Likewise, you should also consult a lawyer before exercising your rights as a renter. This is important to avoid liability as well as lawsuits.