Know Your Renter's Rights

We've compiled a list of 10 common renter's rights. Review your lease carefully before signing. You may also find location-specific rights by checking with your city or state.
1. Fair Housing Rights
You cannot be refused an apartment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.

2. Privacy Rights
You have a right to know when the landlord plans to enter your apartment and the reasons for doing so. Check your lease for specifics.

3. Repair Rights

You have a right to live in a habitable premise which includes running water, heat, and other basics.

4. Safety Rights
You have a right to live in a safe location. Your apartment should include basic safety features such as smoke detectors, fire escapes, locks on windows and doors, and even clean air (e.g. radon testing).

5. Right of First Refusal

In some areas of the country (i.e. Washington, D.C.) you have first refusal to buy your apartment if your landlord decides to sell your apartment unit.

6. Location-Specific Rights

In some areas renters have joined together to fight unfair practices or to encourage positive building changes, such as environmentally-minded changes. Here is an example of a renter's right group in Santa Monica, Calif. Join or create a group in your area.

7. Right to Your Possessions
Landlords are not allowed to seize a tenant's belongings for nonpayment of rent or other reason, except in the case of abandonment.

8. Right for the Lights On

Your landlord is not legally allowed to change the locks or disconnect utilities as a means of eviction.

9. Right of Non-Intimidation
Your landlord is not allowed to intimidate you or make your life "a living hell" to encourage you to leave. If documented, you may have evidence to fight an unlawful eviction.

10. Your Right to Refuse Payment of Mr. Landlord's Legal Bills
In many states it is illegal for a landlord to include as part of your lease a provision which makes you responsible to pay his or her legal fees if you take them to court. Check to see legality in your state.
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