Tenant Rights And Livable Conditions

Wondering what your rights are when you rent a home?

Tenant rights is a subject which is not often discussed, but is important for you to be familiar with. When you are renting your home, you are entitled to a number of rights which most likely won't be discussed by your landlord.

One important right is that of privacy. Your landlord is only allowed to make visits during daytime hours. You can, of course, discuss alternate hours with your landlord. This helps if you are working a swing or graveyard shift. Your landlord can come into your house without notice for an emergency, however.

Discrimination is a touchy subject for many, and it also is when you get into tenant rights. You cannot be denied housing because of your sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, and marital status.

If you are locked out of your house or unlawfully evicted, you have the right to sue for up to triple the damages caused. If force is involved, you can get triple the damages, but there are cases where you can get that amount without force used.

If your landlord pays for some or all of your utilities, and gets behind on the bill, the utility companies need to send you a notice. If you choose to pay the back bills that your landlord owes, you can take that amount out from your monthly rent.

Security deposits also cannot be more than 1.5 times your monthly rent cost. In addition, this money must be deposited into a bank account and held there. Some states require that the tenant be told this in writing, however it is rarely necessary.

Livable conditions are also a part of your tenant rights. When you sign a lease or move into a dwelling, it is commonly understood that this means it is fit for human habitation. The house should be clean, with appliances working and no hazardous wiring or faulty facilities.

Your landlord is also required to keep the premises in livable condition. You will need to inform your landlord when repairs are needed. While the tenant is, on the whole, responsible for the condition of the dwelling, your landlord needs to take care of repairs that are needed through everyday wear and tear.

You have the right to have a 30 day notice of a rent increase. Also, security deposits would need to be given back to the tenant 30 days after leaving the premises. If it is not, you can sue for double the cost of the security deposit.

Heat, water, electricity - those are the three main things you are going to want to check for when you first take a look at the place. Is the house properly heated, is there running water, and is the wiring safe? If not, you would not want to live in such an environment, as it is not livable at all.

A few other things to look for as far as livable conditions go include working windows, fire alarms, emergency exits if you're in an apartment building, no insect or bug infestations, a sturdy lock on the entrances, and locks for the windows. If any of these secondary conditions are amiss, you would most likely be better off looking for a new rental.

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