Ten Tips Every Tenant Should Know
- When meeting a landlord be prepared with information such as completed applications, references, identification and Social Security cards.
- Read the lease carefully before you sign. It is a legal and binding document, and may contain items you don't agree with, such as policies about pets, guests, and other restrictions.
- Get everything in writing. This will help avoid disputes and misunderstandings. Keep copies of everything and follow up. For example, if your landlord agrees verbally to fix something, follow up with a written confirmation. This includes a move-in and move-out inspection showing any damages to the unit before you move in and after you move out.
- Protect your right to privacy. Know your rights in regards to when a landlord can and cannot enter your residence and the amount of notice you must receive. This is a common dispute between landlord and tenant. Knowing your rights will make it easier to protect them.
- Protect your rights to safe, habitable rental housing. Landlords are required to offer their tenants livable units including functioning plumbing, heating, and electricity, as well as clean, sanitary and structurally safe buildings. If your rental unit is not safe, you have options and rights that protect you.
- Communicate with your landlord.
- Carry renter's insurance. Policies are inexpensive and can be invaluable in the event of a disaster.
- Make sure your rental agreement or lease clearly defines the security deposit refund policy. Protect yourself against misunderstandings.
- Know your neighborhood. Learn if your area is safe and what you can expect from your landlord if they are not. If a crime is highly likely, your landlord may be obligated to take some steps to protect you.
- Know when to fight an eviction and when not to. If you have the law, and records of facts, you may be able to fight it. If not, then you may be unable to do anything. Know your rights, and keep records.
Remember: It is your responsibility to follow the rules, keep your unit in good condition and be a good neighbor!