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Basic tenant rights to understand

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2019 | Landlord's Guide |

It’s over 90 degrees outside and your air conditioning decided it was time to retire a couple days ago. You’ve emailed, called or texted your landlord numerous times with no response or action. Sure, you can always find ways to fight the heat, but you should be able to rely on the air conditioning you pay for. 

So, do you have the right to be upset? Yes. You do.

Your landlord should have had the repairs completed two days ago. If you really want to be able to fight your case, it’s imperative to know your tenant rights. Below are five basic tenant rights to get you started.

  1. A landlord cannot, legally, refuse housing for a potential tenant based on race, nationality, sex, marital status, disability or religious status. In 2017, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigated nearly 8,000 housing discrimination complaints.
  2. Specific details of tenant rights vary state by state and jurisdiction by jurisdiction.
  3. You have the right to livable conditions that must include working plumbing, electricity and heat. As mentioned above, any benefits other than those three necessities, varies by state.
  4. You must pay your rent, no matter what. Even if your air conditioning, heater or appliances aren’t working. In some states, your landlord, can lower the rent price or prorate it while the unit is unlivable. You could also consider examining your state laws for the “right to deduct “law. If your state allows this, and you have contacted and allowed your landlord ample time to make the repairs and they have failed to do so, you can have the repairs made yourself and deduct your rent accordingly. Be aware, that any “right to deduct” scenario is legally tricky, so pursuing representation would be in your best interest, at least for an initial discussion.
  5. No matter the reason that has led to your inability to pay rent, if your landlord wants to pursue eviction, they have every right to do so.

Lastly, document everything. From the moment you move in, be sure to take pictures of everything, note all repairs that need to be made and report them immediately to your landlord. Throughout the time you live in that location, document each attempt to contact your landlord about repairs. If you do this and you get charged for needed repairs when you move out, you have a greater chance of avoiding the fees.

In accordance with acquiring legal representation, you can also file a complaint with HUD if you feel you are being discriminated against.