Know Your Rights

Tenant rights are, for the most part, set by state law, so you should check for the specific laws that affect tenants in your state. The following is information on some fairly common tenants' rights that may or may not be applicable to your state.

Renter's Rights

Your Responsibilities

Before we talk about what the landlord is responsible for, let's take a look at your responsibilities:

  • Keep the apartment clean.
  • Put out garbage in proper containers.
  • Use electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
  • Follow local housing, health and safety rules.
  • Do not damage the landlord's property or disturb neighbors.
  • Make sure guests do not destroy the landlord's property or disturb other residents.
  • Use appliances with care.
  • Notify the landlord when repairs are needed.

Landlord's Responsibilities

Renting is a two-way street. Since you are required to keep up your end of the bargain, the landlord has certain responsibilities, as well:

  • Obey all health and safety laws and regulations.
  • Make all repairs needed to maintain the property in good condition.
  • Keep all common areas safe, clean and in good repair.
  • Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning fixtures and applications that the landlord provides or is required to provide.
  • Provide and maintain garbage cans and provide for trash removal where there are four or more units in the building.
  • Supply running water and enough hot water and heat at all times, unless there are separate heating or hot water units for each dwelling unit and the utility fees for the heating and hot water are paid directly by the tenant to a public utility company.
  • Give at least 24 hours notice to a tenant before trying to enter his or her apartment and enter only at reasonable times unless there is an emergency.
  • Do not abuse the right to enter.

Prohibited Actions

There are certain actions your landlord is not allowed to take, no matter what the situation. A landlord cannot shut off utilities, take anything that belongs to a tenant, change the locks or otherwise lock a tenant out of his or her apartment to force the tenant to pay rent or leave the apartment. A landlord also cannot raise the rent or threaten to evict a tenant for taking legal action against the landlord. A landlord is not permitted to abuse the right to enter the apartment, meaning that the landlord is not allowed to harass a tenant with repeated visits.