Exploring Your Apartment Renters Rights and How to Enforce Them
When you rent an apartment you will need to know your rights as
a tenant. You have rights, and if you do not know them you could
find yourself confused and frustrated if you find yourself in a
situation where you know what is right and wrong, but are not sure
if it is legally right and wrong. You need to make yourself prepared
for these situations, as they happen often, so you know exactly
what to do.
Your rental agreement is a written and legal agreement between
you and the landlord. Your landlord cannot simply change something
in the agreement without your agreement. You have the right to
seek legal advice and counsel if you do not agree with any changes
(verbal or written) with your contract. Pay special attention to
your renters agreement when you renew your lease, as well. Your
landlord may have slipped something new in there, and once you
sign you are legally agreeing to those new terms, too, whether
you read them or not. Never read something before reading it, understanding
it, and agreeing to it.
If the landlord such as those included
in your rent – telephone,
cable television, is paying your utilities – electricity,
heat, hot water, etc. they cannot be shut off without the company
letting you know first. If your landlord does not pay the bill
for any of the utilities that are included in your rent and in
your lease, the company that supplies the certain utility must
warn every tenant that the service will be shut off. This warning
needs to get to you an advance notice that the service will be
shut off. You can then pay the bill yourself and deduct that amount
you are paying from your rent, since it is written in your lease
that the landlord is supposed to provide it for you.
In most states, landlords must provide at least one smoke alarm
that can be easily heard in the sleeping areas. Even better would
be one in every bedroom with one downstairs.
They are a necessity when renting an apartment. You most likely
will need a security deposit to enter a renters agreement. The
security deposit is to be used to fix anything damaged (not including
normal wear) after you leave the premises, and for any rent not
paid after you leave. There is a certain amount of time the landlord
has to return your security deposit to you with a written notice
outlining any reasons for taking money out of your security deposit.
If you do not receive your deposit back or do not get what you
should have back you can take your landlord to small claims court
to try to get what you are owed.
Your apartment needs to be sanitary and able to live in. You should
have running water, hot water, heat, etc. in order to live in your
apartment. If you have anything in your apartment that makes it
inhabitable, you need to contact your local health department immediately.