As a renter, it may seem that you have little control over the property in which you live. But every state has laws to protect renters from the beginning to the end of the process. It's important to know your rights and responsibilities as a renter, so you can protect yourself in any situation.
Landlords can't discriminate:
By law, property owners can't discriminate against renters on the basis of religion, race, national origin, family status, sex or disability. This is true both during the application process as well as the time you are a tenant. If you feel you were denied a rental for discriminatory reasons, or if you're being treated differently by your landlord based on one of these factors, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Your landlord must keep the property in good condition:
If a pipe bursts, the shower stops working, a tree falls in the front yard, or anything happens to make the property unlivable or unsafe, your landlord is obligated to fix the problem. If you request anything from your landlord, be sure to document the communication: either send an email or, if you make a phone call, make a note of the date as well as what was discussed and agreed upon. If your landlord doesn't fix the problem in a timely manner, there are multiple avenues for recourse. Contact your local housing agency to get help and to understand your options.
There are laws about security deposits:
Most states have laws about how much landlords can charge for security deposits, how they can be used, and the process that must be followed for returning them in a timely manner, once you move out. Landlords can take money from your deposit for cleaning and repairs, but not for "normal wear and tear." To keep your landlord from dipping into your deposit for things you didn't do, it's always a good idea to do a walk through with the landlord before you move in. Document any minor issues (like a stain on the carpet or a cracked tile) with a camera so you're not responsible for them later.
As a tenant, you have rights and responsibilities, too:
The guidelines of your lease should cover whether you can have pets, smoke on the premises, and even whether you can put things on the walls. It may also include some responsibility for upkeep, like yard maintenance. If you don't do these things, then you are in breach of your contract.
You can protect yourself with renter's insurance:
In general, renter's insurance is pretty inexpensive, and it can cover your stuff if it gets damaged because of fire, theft or other issues. Depending on your policy, it can also provide liability coverage and coverage for living expenses if you're displaced for certain reasons. Remember, your landlord's insurance covers the property itself, but you are responsible for protecting yourself and your possessions. Talk to your insurance agent to get a policy that's right for you.
For all of your insurance questions, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.