Financial Literacy for Everyone

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Both renters and landlords have rights. As a renter, you have the right to a safe apartment in functioning condition, and the landlord has the right to receive your rent payments on time. There are also varying legal matters surrounding who is responsible for utilities, maintenance and repairs that you should know. Tenants' rights, or renters' rights, are for the most part set by state law, so research the specific laws that affect tenants in your state.

Renters Rights

The following are some fairly common tenant rights that may or may not be applicable in your state.

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.

Your Landlord's Responsibilities
Renting is a two-way street. You are required to keep up your end of the bargain, and 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 appliances that the landlord provides.
  • Provide and maintain garbage cans and 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; pay basic underlying fees for the energy bills paid directly by the tenant to a public utility company.
  • Give tenant at least 24 hours' notice before trying to enter the apartment and enter only at reasonable times unless there is an emergency.

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 you, change the locks or otherwise lock you out of your apartment to force you to pay rent or leave the apartment. A landlord also cannot raise the rent or threaten to evict you for taking legal action against the landlord. You might want to consult professional legal counsel if either situation arises. 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.

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