What are Tenant Rights?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Tenant's rights are rights and legal protections under the law which are extended to renters. They are also known as “renter's rights.” Landlords also have specific rights and protections. Both sets of laws are designed to ensure that renters and landlords fulfill their responsibilities to each other, and create a system for handling disputes and other issues which may arise. Tenant rights vary depending on the region in which you live; it is an excellent idea to learn about your rights now, before you need them in a dispute with your landlord.

Tenant rights include lease agreements.
Tenant rights include lease agreements.

Landlord-tenant laws cover a number of issues, ranging from how much a landlord can request for a security deposit to the correct procedures for eviction. Many organizations help to promote tenant's rights, and work with tenants and landlords to reach amicable resolutions to disputes. These groups also monitor things like illegal clauses in leases and other violations of the law. A tenant's rights organization can also help a tenant with legal issues like finding a lawyer and going to court, if necessary. These groups may also help mediate roommate disputes as well, in some cases.

Rights of tenants include provisions stating that necessary repair work must be completed in a reasonable amount of time.
Rights of tenants include provisions stating that necessary repair work must be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

In regions with highly pressured housing markets, violations of tenant rights are unfortunately very common. Landlords in these areas are fully aware that they can quickly find renters for their units. As a result, they may demand deposits which are excessive, or they may not follow the letter of the law when asking tenants to leave. This can be frustrating for tenants, and it is important for them to learn their rights and fight back because this improves conditions for all tenants.

Landlord-tenant laws cover a number of issues.
Landlord-tenant laws cover a number of issues.

Some things which are included in tenant rights are: lease agreements, health and safety protections, systems for handling complaints by tenants and landlords, rent control, personal rights, reasonable charges, deposits, the process for legal termination of a lease, pets, and other issues like measures for handicapped tenants. Some of these measures can get quite complex, especially when it comes to issues like the legal way to terminate a lease agreement.

Access to proper garbage disposal facilities is one right that tenants have.
Access to proper garbage disposal facilities is one right that tenants have.

Some regions have stronger tenant rights than others. California, for example, is well-known for having a powerful legal code to protect tenants which also protects landlords. Both landlords and tenants have legal, ethical, and financial responsibilities to each other, and tenant's rights outline these responsibilities while ensuring that there are ways to ensure that these responsibilities are fulfilled by both sides. Plain-language explanations of regional landlord-tenant rights are often available from state attorney generals, public assistance offices, and other elected officials.

A tenant's rights organization may help mediate roommate disputes.
A tenant's rights organization may help mediate roommate disputes.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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