Residential Tenant Rights

Renting, whether it’s by lease or from month to month, is a lawful arrangement: The legislation gives tenants rights the landlord can not remove. Some rights are guaranteed by national law, the others by local or state government. If a landlord ignores your rights, then you might be able to sue for compensation and triumph.


Federal law prohibits multiple forms of discrimination against potential tenants, according to the Nolo legal website, such as religion, nationality, gender, disability, ethnicity and–with the exception of senior-living facilities–the existence of children. Some state and local laws go further: In California, for instance, you can not refuse to lease for any reason not directly associated with being a good tenant, and that the state says disallows bias based on sexual orientation and appearance.


Fair-housing law protects tenants who are denied apartments or evicted due to discrimination, but in addition, it protects against less obvious forms of discrimination, Nolo states. Your landlord can not set higher income requirements for some tenants rather than for others, as an example, or adopt an inconsistent coverage on the way she treats late rent payments. It’s also illegal for her to selectively screen tenants, by way of example only giving minorities criminal background checks.


Every lease includes an”implied warranty of habitability,” meaning you’ve got a right to a livable apartment or rental home, whatever the lease states, according to the California Department of Community Affairs. There isn’t any specific legal definition of habitability, but it’s generally taken to include running cold and hot water; functioning electricity; doors with deadbolts; working air-conditioning and warmth; a weatherproof building envelope; a supply of natural lighting in every room; and an apartment free of pests. If you’re to blame for the problems, however–for example, your unclean kitchen draws roaches–that the landlord can not be held liable.


If your landlord won’t make your premises habitable, you have several solutions available, the DCA states. It’s possible to pay for repairs and deduct the cost from the lease, for instance; you can withhold rent; even if the conditions threaten your family’s life or health, you can break your lease and move out. The DCA points out that all these measures involve legal points that should be carefully considered before you take any action.


Up till 2009, in case your landlord’s lender foreclosed on the house, your lease would develop into a month-to-month arrangement and also the new owner could tell you to leave. In 2009, Nolo states, the national government passed a law claiming that leaseholders could stay after foreclosure until the lease expires, unless the new owner wants to move in the apartment or house. Renters paying month to month must be provided at least 90 days notice until they’re moved out.

See related