Are You Renting an Apartment? Know the Rights of a Tenant

As the cost of owning a home remains high, many people find that renting an apartment is more suitable for their budget. If you’re an apartment dweller, you should become familiar with the rights of a tenant as there are many rules in place to protect tenants in a variety of situations.

While most landlords have their tenants’ best interests in mind, there are some who are inclined to squeeze out every dollar they can from a renter’s wallet. You can likely avoid this by knowing your rights as a tenant. Tenant rights vary from state to state, and even county to county, but here’s a glimpse into five general rights that apply in most states.

  • An apartment unit must be habitable and in compliance with local housing and health codes. In other words, tenants have the right to a unit that’s clean, weatherproofed, and a working supply of water, electricity and heat.
  • A landlord is required to give tenants advanced notice, usually 24 hours, before entering their apartment. In most cases, they’re usually allowed inside only to make repairs or during an emergency.
  • If the unit comes with a refrigerator and stove, they must work properly. The garbage disposal must also be in working order. If any appliances need repair, a tenant has rights to have them fixed in a timely manner.
  • Once a tenant vacates their apartment, a landlord cannot use part of the security deposit to cover costs associated with normal wear and tear. In some cases, the rights of a tenant stipulate that a landlord must provide an itemized list of any deductions.
  • A landlord is prohibited from changing a tenant’s locks, shutting of their utilities or evicting them without notice. A landlord must first obtain a court order to evict a tenant.

Although you may not own the property you live in, you’re certainly entitled many rights as a tenant. Remember, the rules designed to protect tenants will vary depending on where you live. To learn about the specific rights of tenants in your area, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website at www.hud.gov.