As a tenant, you have the right to a comfortable, safe home. You also have the right to privacy, fair housing, and a sanitary environment. However, if you sign a lease agreement that forfeits any of the rights below, you no longer can claim them. Be careful when signing agreements and look out for hidden fees and stipulations. Always fully read rental agreements before you sign them.
Fair Housing and Proper Notice
Landlords cannot discriminate on the basis of religion, sex, handicap, family status, source of income, race, color, etc. You also have the right to see your rental unit before you rent it out. Your landlord is also required to give you 15 days notice before a “no cause eviction” or before changing the price of rent.
Your landlord can only enter your property at “reasonable times” to make inspections or make repairs. They should notify you and ask permission before entering. You have the right to let them know when a reasonable time is. Landlords also have the responsibility to prevent other tenants within the property from disturbing you. Your landlord cannot lock you out of your home, take your belongings, etc. unless you have been evicted by the court.
Sanitation and Safety
The state requires landlords to keep their rental units in accordance to state, city, and county building and health codes. If you feel like your rental unit does not meet ordinances, you have the right to call an inspector to check out the unit. You are allowed to request repairs of the landlord, and they are required to make repairs within a reasonable period. However, if you sign a contract that puts the responsibility of repairs on the tenant, you forfeit that right.
There are instances where you, as a renter, are allowed to withhold rent from your landlord. You can withhold rent from your landlord only if you have submitted a Notice of Deficient Conditions. A Notice of Deficient Conditions is a letter that you send to your landlord detailing necessary repairs in the unit. The landlord then has ten days to correct the problem or schedule a time for the problem to be corrected. If the ten days pass and nothing has been done, you can then repair the damage yourself. Save all receipts and deduct the amount paid from future rent (giving the landlord a copy of all receipts). The amount deducted cannot exceed two months rent. Make sure you go through this process or your landlord can sue you for delinquency.