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5 Of The Most Common Questions About Renters’ Rights

Know your rights, tenants! This guide provides answers to the five most frequently asked questions about renters’ rights. Renters’ Rights are local laws that govern your living space. It gives the tenants a legal recourse if the landlord fails to maintain their property.

Some questions we’ll be covering are:

  • Can I deny entry to my landlord?
  • What to do if your landlord won’t fix anything in your apartment?
  • Can a landlord kick you out?
  • Who is accountable for the maintenance of common areas in my apartment building?
  • Is my landlord harassing me?

1. Can I deny entry to my landlord?

Yes, a tenant can deny entry to a landlord based on their right to privacy, but there are a few exceptions. If an emergency strikes that requires the landlord to be present, e.g. if a tenant has abandoned the property or there’s a police investigation for a reported crime, the landlord has the right to enter the property. However, for common repairs and house improvements or to show to the apartment to a prospective tenant or purchaser, the landlord needs to give the tenant a 24-hour notice period and arrive at a reasonable time.

2. What should I do if my landlord won’t fix anything in my apartment?

Regardless of what’s written in your lease, in every state except Arkansas, you have a fundamental right to a comfortable home. The landlord must maintain your unit during your tenancy. The tenant has a lot of options available if the landlord is refusing to make major repairs. Options include alerting a housing inspector if the problem violates building code.

Many states offer the option to withhold rent until the repairs are made. A tenant can also make repairs by themselves and deduct the cost from their monthly rent, though consent from the landlord is required. You can even go to the small claims court and sue your landlord; you may be able to get your rent reduced.

3. Who is accountable for the maintenance of common areas in my apartment building?

Landlords are responsible for maintaining common areas as mandated by state law. Maintaining common areas means that cleanliness and safety are taken care of. If your landlord is not addressing these issues or is unresponsive, you can get assistance by contacting the local government office based on the violation of health codes, safety codes and/or failing to maintain housing standards.

4. Can my landlord kick me out?

It is illegal for the landlord to change the locks or throw out your belongings. A landlord cannot just kick you out. They need to follow a formal process of eviction that the state provides. If things get nasty and you’re forced out of your apartment, you can sue the landlord and also get compensation for damage to your belongings and other related losses.

5. Is my landlord harassing me?

Harassment from landlords can be quite a nerve-wracking experience. It can come to a point where you’re worried about your mental health and safety. Obvious forms of harassment include violating your right to privacy by showing up unannounced or at odd hours. Spreading false information and defamation is also considered as harassment.

A landlord cannot disrupt your work environment by spreading false information about you to your co-workers or employers. Some landlords are even reported to break the law by spying, assaulting, or sexually assaulting their tenants. If you have experienced this extreme form of harassment, you should get the police involved.