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Understanding Your Rights as a Renter


Your Rights as a Renter

Renting comes with certain rights.  While it is true that the landlord does own the apartment or home where you are living, he/she must abide by state, county, city, or muncipal laws. The landlord must provide a safe unit with functioning systems, such as heat and hot water. The lights should come on when you flip the switch.  Your home should be free of insects and other pests.  And, in general, your unit should be in good repair.

Federal fair housing laws also protect you from discrimination. A landlord cannot discriminate against you based on “race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status (having children), and physical or mental disability (including alcoholism and past drug addiction). In addition, many states and cities also prohibit discrimination based on marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” But a landlord can reject your application if you have:

  • A poor credit history
  • Insufficient income
  • Poor references from a previous landlord
  • A Criminal conviction
  • Pets
  • A Smoking habit
  • Or any other reasonable business case for not renting to you

With the rights of renting, also come the responsibilities of renting.  You need to pay your rent on time every month.  You must do your part to maintain your unit, abiding by those same local laws that govern your landlord.  You need to be respectful of your neighbors.  And if something does go wrong, you are responsible for alerting your landlord, who can correct the situation.

Tools to Help

Renter's Rights Checklist

A general overview of renter’s rights.

Learn More

How to Address Right's Violations as a Renter

A step-by-step guide for dealing with rental violations

Learn More

Fact Sheet: Eviction

Understand the types and causes of evictions

Learn More


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What You Can Do Right Now

Information is great. But taking small steps now can lead to big changes.
  • Today
  • Know your rights as a renter. State, local and federal fair housing laws protect you from unfair treatment.
  • Next Week
  • Communicate with your landlord if there is a problem with your unit.
  • During the Next Few Months
  • Understand your rights if your rental situation leads to an eviction.