Finding the perfect apartment can take some work. It can be a stressful time, especially if you have children. The good news is that renters do have rights. These rights can ensure that you and your children have a safe place to live. Renter’s rights can also guide the behavior of landlords and ensure that your landlord is not taking advantage of you.
Of course, the best landlord and renter relationships are based upon trust and respect. In some cases, your landlord may not be respectful or give you reason to trust him or her. In cases like this, you will need to know your rights.
Here are some of the most important points to know about your rights as a renter:
- Leases should always be in writing. This is important to avoid misunderstandings. Leases should include the amount of rent and when the rent is due as well as other terms of the lease. The more specific the lease, the better for you and the landlord. If you have questions about the lease, ask before signing. By not following the lease, you risk not having your security deposit returned to you when you vacate the rental. Your landlord may also decide to terminate the lease prematurely.
- Landlords should expect normal wear and tear. However, renters will be responsible for anything that is damaged. In order to protect yourself as a renter, take pictures of any damage present before you move in. For example, if the blinds on the windows are torn or ripped, take a photo to document that. Otherwise, you may be charged when you leave the rental.
- Renters can not change the unit without the landlord’s consent. This means that you can not paint the walls unless the landlord agrees. If the landlord does agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
- Your landlord can charge a fee if your rent is late. This fee should be specified in writing in the lease.
- If you decide to not renew your lease, or if you need to break the lease in order to move before the renewal, you should give your landlord a notice in writing. This notice should be given at least 30 days in advance of the month where you will be leaving.
- If you are entitled to a security deposit, your landlord must return the deposit to you within 45 days.
- Your landlord must give you notice if he or she plans to enter your rental unit. Your landlord may not enter your rental without permission unless it is an emergency situation.
It is wise to consult a lawyer in order to learn more about your rights and responsibilities before you sign any lease.