What Are a Tenant's Rights for Renting From a Home Owner?

by Dana Sparks ; Updated July 27, 2017
A renter who understands his rights is in a stronger position.

The legal protections provided to a tenant are the same whether that tenant rents from a homeowner or a property management company.

The Right To Equality

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny housing to a person based upon his or her race, color, sex, religion, disability, family status or national origin.

The Right To A Safe Home

Tenants have a legal right to a safe home. A home should comply with housing and health codes. It must be sanitary, weatherproofed, structurally safe, have adequate electricity and heat, and access to clean water. A tenant may have the legal right to break his lease if his landlord has violated his right to a healthy, safe home.

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The Right To Repairs

All legally required repairs and maintenance must be made by the landlord in a timely fashion, or the lease should provide a provision that gives the tenants the right to make repairs and deduct the cost from his or her monthly rent.

The Right To A Legal Lease

The lease a tenant signs must be legal. This means that the court will not enforce a lease that violates state law. It is also illegal in many states for a tenant to be responsible for the landlord's attorney fees in the event of a court case.

The Right To A Fair Deposit

The amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit is limited in most states. Damage or security deposits can't be deducted for normal wear and tear. Most states require that a landlord return the refundable portion of the security deposit within 14 to 30 days after the property has been vacated.

The Right To Privacy

A landlord must give notice before entering a property.

The Right To Financial Fairness

Landlords are expected to mitigate their damages if a tenant breaks a lease. In other words, the landlord must search for a new tenant right away, rather than allowing the home to sit empty while charging the tenant for the remainder of the lease.

The Right To Evenhandedness

Landlords can't seize a tenant's property for nonpayment of rent. They are prohibited from evicting a tenant in retaliation for a complaint or lawsuit. They can't change the locks or shut off the utilities, or evict a tenant without notice.

The Right To Escape

It may be considered constructive eviction if a landlord makes life so unbearable for a tenant that the tenant is forced to move.

About the Author

Dana Sparks has been a professional writer since 1990. As a staff reporter, she has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and she is also the author of two published novels. Sparks holds a Bachelor of Arts in business.

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