What are my rights as a renter or applicant?

No matter if it's a house you own or an apartment you rent, home is where the heart is. This is why it's crucial to understand your rights as a renter and applicant before, during and after you sign the lease. 

Here's some tenant rights to keep front of mind when searching for a new apartment:

  • Know your state and local laws - Federal, state and local governments have a number of laws and statues to protect both renters and landlords, so it's helpful to know how these laws apply to you. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is a great resource to find this information. 
  • Disclosures - If your application is denied, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a property manager has to disclose if the rejection was due to negative credit. Additionally, many states and municipalities have additional disclosures laws tailored for their locality. 
  • Livable Home - You have a right to dwell in an apartment or home that does not put your health at risk. Always try to take a tour of the rental during the application process, and if needed, request repairs and fixes before signing the lease. 
  • Privacy - Whether or not you own the property, you have a right to privacy. A landlord is not permitted to enter a domicile unannounced, and you should be given advance notice of any annual inspections. 
  • Security Deposit - Each state has laws and regulations about how much a landlord can charge for the deposit. Learn these state laws to ensure they're complying with standard practices. 
  • Ask for help - If there's language in the lease agreement you do not understand, it might be time to get professional assistance. There are numerous agents and legal counsel that specialize in representing tenants. 
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