Friday, August 12, 2011 -
By Stephen Davis
Special to Relocation.com
Oftentimes tenants are not completely familiar with their rights when they move into an apartment. This gives landlords or homeowners the opportunity unjustly for financial benefit without the tenant being aware.
The basic things all renters should realize is that the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, marital status and physical or mental disability.
There are a few other basic laws that you need to know as a tenant:
• A landlord cannot end your rental contract on the basis of discriminatory reasons. As long as your actions are approved by the law, the landlord has no right to object to them and end your tenancy.
• A landlord cannot harass a tenant in any way including speech, physical actions and psychological methods. Additionally, the landlord cannot lock you out of your house or restrict access to utilities like water and electricity.
• It is also the responsibility of the landlord to have the rental unit in habitable conditions when it is handed over to you. There should be no structural damage to the building (including floorboard holes and stairs). The wiring should be safe and all main electric wires should be in protected housings. The premises should be free of all kinds of medical hazards and also vermin infestations like cockroaches and mice. The landlord should also ensure that the electricity, water and heat to your residence work correctly.
Any conditions that make your unit unfit for living are to be fixed by the landlord.
• Another very important point is your privacy. You have the right to complete privacy at your rental unit. The landlord has no right to enter your area without prior permission. In instances where some repair work is needed, the landlord is supposed to give a notice in advance so you are aware. Only in emergency situations the landlord may enter without permission.
There is a common misconception that landlords can evict tenants when they themselves think that terms of lease have been breached. However, this is not the case. Before a landlord evicts you, there has to be a legal termination of the lease contract. You have the right to file a claim if you feel that your rights are being violated. If you are evicted, the landlord is supposed to return the security deposit.
It is important to know that casual damages like nail holes and faded paint are not supposed to be charged to the tenant by law. These damages are the sole responsibility of the landlord and are to be repaired with his money.
Additionally, tenants should realize that a landlord can evict you without reason by giving you a move-out notice. But this does not take effect immediately. The tenant is given a 30-60 day period to vacate the premises.