Just because you don’t own the property, doesn’t mean you don’t have rights as a tenant. Many renterss don’t realize that landlords have violated tenants rights because they don’t know the law. Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords use this to their advantage. They either rip renters off or treat them unlawfully.
Here are some common examples of tenants rights violations:
- Visiting the property unannounced
- Not carrying out essential repairs
- Trying to evict you without proper notice
- Unlawfully refusing to return the deposit
It is also a fair housing violation to mistreat you based on your race, color, gender, nationality, disability, or family status.
So, you think your landlord is out of line? They could be if you know what your tenants rights are. This article aims to give you the lowdown on what your landlord can and can’t do.
Tenants Rights: What the Law Says
You’ve got responsibilities as a tenant. But because you pay rent, you also have rights. You have the right to be treated fairly. Also, you have the right to live in a home that doesn’t put your health, wellbeing, or life in danger.
Many of your rights are set out in the Fair Housing Act. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says that all types of housing discrimination are violations. For example, a landlord can’t treat you differently due to your race, religion, sex, family status, disability, color, or national origin. Other violations are also set out in local state laws. But generally, your landlord must make sure that the property is well-maintained and in good repair.
Top 7 Examples of Tenants Rights Violations
Read on if you want to know the seven most common violations that renters can face.
1. Not providing a fit and habitable home
One of the most common tenants rights violation examples is landlords who don’t maintain rental properties. Most states have laws requiring that landlords ensure properties have hot and cold water, proper sanitation, heating, and ventilation. Some additional rental violations can include:
- Defective plumbing
- Structural issues
- Pest and insect infestations
- No means to remove garbage
- Not dealing with contaminants—mold, radon, asbestos, etc.
- Shutting off utilities
2. Not respecting your privacy
Your landlord can’t violate your rights as a renter by invading your privacy. Your lease agreement should state the amount of notice you should get before the landlord or maintenance vendors visit the property. The notice is usually 24 – 48 hours. Of course, exceptions are emergencies such as burst pipes, a fire, or a similar situation.
Here’s an example of a violation of your rights: there’s an unexpected knock on the door, and your landlord is standing there.
3. Violating your right to peace and quiet
The legalese term is “Implied Warranty of Quiet Enjoyment.” But this basically means you should be able to live in your place without constant disturbances. Even though some disturbances may not be your landlord’s fault, it’s their responsibility to sort them out. In some states, you may also be able to get a refund of your rent.
What are examples of violations when it comes to your right for peace and quiet? Here are a few:
- Your landlord is continually harassing you in person or on the phone.
- Neighbors play loud music throughout the night.
- A dog that barks continuously.
- Noises from vermin—remember, pest infestations are also a violation.
Of course, these violations don’t include short or one-time disturbances.
4. Asking too much for a deposit is a tenants rights violation
Did you know that the law states how much deposit your landlord can ask? Yes, it’s true. What’s also true is that your landlord may not know this is a violation. So, before signing a lease and handing over your cash, find out what your state’s laws say about security deposit limits.
5. Treating you differently
An example of your tenants rights violation is when landlords treat tenants differently. The Fair Housing Act says that all renters enjoy the same rights. Your landlord can’t have one set of rules for you and another for your neighbor. For example, letting one tenant off with a late payment but imposing a late-payment fee on you is a clear violation of your tenants rights.
6. Refusing to return your security deposit
So, you decide to leave your rental and find a new place. And, you’re looking forward to some extra money when you get your deposit—with accrued interest, of course. Then your landlord drops the bombshell that you’re not getting all of your deposit back. Is this legal?
Your landlord can keep any or all of the deposit if they’ve got a legal basis. But some sneaky landlords break the law by keeping some of the deposit when you’re entitled to it back. Some examples of these violations include:
- Charging you for normal wear and tear
- Holding back the deposit for minor nicks to doors, floors, or paint
But, your landlord can hold on to your deposit if you leave the place in a mess, you defaulted on rent, or the carpets are stained and need replacing.
7. Failing to give proper notice about eviction
Your landlord can’t just kick you out without warning. Even if you have breached some terms of the lease, you should be given time to fix the problem. A landlord can start the eviction process through the local court without telling you. But in any case, you must get a written notice of eviction and time to answer the complaint.
However, during the eviction process, your landlord can’t do any of the following:
- Change the locks
- Shut off utilities
- Not allow you time to pay overdue rent or fix the problem
- Confiscate any of your property
If you’re facing eviction and fear you may be made homeless, please read this article on how to get emergency housing assistance fast. You may also find this list of emergency housing resources helpful.
Tenants Rights Violations: How to Report a Landlord
How should you proceed if you think your landlord has violated your tenants rights? In some cases, it’s best to work out the problem with your landlord. In other cases, you should report your landlord to the local authorities. If the violation is due to discrimination, then contact HUD directly.
Tenants Rights Violations: A Takeaway
It’s essential to know your rights if you’re renting an apartment. If you think your landlord is guilty of tenants rights violations, check the terms of your lease. Sometimes a polite letter can resolve the issue. If it becomes more serious, then you should get legal advice if you need to defend yourself in court.