It is crucial to understand your responsibilities when renting an apartment, but it is important to understand the duties of your landlord.
When moving into a complex, you have certain expectations for what a landlord is going to oversee and what is your responsibility. If it is the case your landlord is not upholding his or her expectations, you and other tenants are at risk.
A landlord is responsible for the safety of the apartments and maintenance. If a landlord must enter your apartment, notice must be given, unless there is an emergency where you or others are at risk.
By understanding what a landlord is responsible for, it helps you determine what problems the landlord can and cannot take care of during the duration of your time at this property. Be aware of your rights as a tenant to live in an environment free of discrimination.
It is up to the landlord to provide an environment safe and nondiscriminatory for all tenants. If it is the case you feel your rights as a tenant have been violated, it is up to the landlord to fix the issue or face a potential lawsuit.
Learn About the Responsibilities Regarding Rental Agreements and Your Lease
When you are looking at options for renting, you usually find either a month-by-month rental or a lease rental. Lease rentals are more common and dictate a term of six, 12, or 24-months. Understand, if you sign a lease with a landlord, the landlord cannot change any aspects of the lease during the leasing term.
Once the term is over and you are in a renewal period, the landlord can change the rental amount. The only time the landlord may change an aspect of the lease during the leasing term is if both parties are in agreement.
For month-by-month rentals, the rental terms are terminated or changed at any time and no prior notice must be given. From month to month, the unit price fluctuates or becomes unavailable. On the other hand, you can move out at any point within your agreed term without issue.
As always, fully read and understand your lease before signing. If you are ever concerned with the terms of the lease, sit down and talk with the landlord. Most landlords are happy to allay any fears and work with tenants.
Try and think about any rules or potential issues to ask about even if they are not on the lease. If you need any changes or clarifications, ask for it in writing for potential legal purposes.
Once you sign the lease, you are legally indicating that you agree with and intend to follow all rules outlined in the document. Breaking a lease is serious business and is often difficult to do, so try and avoid it whenever possible.
Learn About Security Deposit Collections and Returns
When you are signing your lease, most rentals include paying a security deposit. Each security deposit is different, and the landlord has the right to set the security deposit amount at two months’ worth of rent.
For example, if your agreed monthly rent is $500, the security deposit is a maximum of $1000. A security deposit is a separate fee from administrative fees, pet deposits, or application fees. Your landlord is responsible for collecting the check at the time the lease is signed.
Once the leasing term has expired, if you have followed the rules of your apartment outlined in the lease, your landlord must return your deposit. If you excessively damage your apartment, are behind on rent, or have failed to clean the apartment well before moving out, the deposit is kept.
If you break your lease, you do not get your security deposit back. In the event overwhelming damages occur in your apartment totaling costs above your security deposit, you must pay extra money to cover the costs.
Learn About Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
All apartment units must have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It is your landlord’s responsibility to provide working smoke detectors. Depending on what state you reside in, landlords are required by law to place carbon monoxide detectors in the unit as well.
The maintenance of these detectors is on the shoulders of the landlord. If any issues arise with them during your stay, contact the landlord immediately.
Learn About Repairs and Maintenance
All maintenance and repairs for the unit are overseen by the landlord. Repairs are classified as issues with plumbing, leaks, broken windows or doors, or issues with your cooling systems. Any problems with broken appliances are overseen by the landlord if they came with the apartment.
Cleaning and minor repairs like replacing lightbulbs are not considered maintenance the landlord must take care of and you must oversee these issues. The response time for a landlord varies between states but regardless of what state you reside in, immediate hazards must be fixed as quick as possible.
Learn About Mold and Hazards
Many reasons why leaks of any kind and repair of broken windows falls to the landlord are due to mold. A landlord must keep mold out of apartments at all times. According to the law, states require newer apartments to have sufficient ventilation included in the construction plans to further decrease the potential for mold.
Landlords are responsible for keeping buildings up to code and passing inspections. If you find mold in your apartment, report it. It must be taken care of immediately.
Learn About the Notice to Enter a Rental Unit
The only time a landlord may enter your apartment without plenty of notice is in the event of an emergency. For non-emergency situations you have a minimum of 24 hours’ notice and the landlord or maintenance only enters during business hours.
Valid reasons for entering a unit are repairs, maintenance, and inspections. If a landlord abuses the right to enter a unit it is considered a form of harassment and a lawsuit may potentially be filed.
Laws for Housing Discrimination
In 1689, the Fair Housing Act was passed. This legally prohibits landlords from discriminating against any tenant or potential tenant due to national origin, religion, race, color, sex, familial status, or disability.
Landlords may not discriminate in any sale or rental of a unit. If you are concerned about potential discrimination, file a case with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Each city and county have at least one HUD office available for assistance.