The use of rental properties in America is at a high not seen since the 1960s. More than 36% of the American population rent their homes rather than owning them. They occupy nearly 44 million rental properties across the country.
These rental properties come with great benefits for both landlords and tenants. However, to ensure the security of your rental home or let property, you need to know your rights. This is where the rental rules and regulations come in.
These rules dictate what rights tenants and landlords can have. Knowing them is very important whenever you rent out your property or are looking to let a new home. This could save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Not familiar with common landlord-tenant laws in America? Then you’re in the right place! Read on to find out seven house rental laws that both landlords and tenants need to know about.
1. The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a part of federal law, which means that it is part of landlord-tenant law across America. This act aims to provide equal housing opportunities to all Americans.
It forbids discrimination on the grounds of:
- Race and ethnicity
- Nation of origin
- Sexual orientation
- Familial status
In addition to this, the act also bans advertising a rental property in a way that is discriminatory. For example, you cannot advertise a rental property solely to white Christian families. It must be available for all to view and rent.
2. The Fair Credit Reporting Act
When it comes to renting a property, most landlords will carry out a credit check on prospective tenants. This ensures that these tenants will be able to pay their rent comfortably and is part of common practice.
However, in order to carry out this check, a landlord must comply with the regulations outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
This act dictates that a landlord must get permission from prospective tenants before carrying out a credit check. They must also inform tenants of which credit check agency they are going to use. If the credit check means that a tenant’s rental application is denied, this must be explained to the prospective tenant.
3. State Rental Rules and Regulations
Renting law may vary depending on where you live, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with state laws as well as federal ones. These laws can include:
- What responsibilities the landlord or tenants have
- What clauses you may include in a lease agreement
- The guidelines for tenancy termination and eviction
- How much a landlord can charge as a security deposit
It is always worth looking up these regulations before you sign or draw up a lease agreement.
4. Lease Agreements
Landlord laws state that it is the landlord’s responsibility to draw up a lease or commercial lease agreement for their tenants. This should outline the terms and conditions of the property rental, such as the price per week, month, or year.
It is important for both parties to check this thoroughly and to raise any queries before signing it. Once you have signed a lease agreement it will be much harder to dispute specific clauses.
In some cases, extra clauses may need adding to suit the specific rental property.
5. A Landlord’s Safety Responsibilities
It is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain a property to the standard specified in the lease agreement. However, the landlord also has a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their tenants. This covers several areas of rental law.
Before tenants move into a property, the landlord must ensure that it is a safe environment. This includes ensuring that all appliances and fixtures are working safely. The property should also be free of pest or insect infestations.
If there are any issues with the property these should be disclosed to the tenants by the landlord before they move in. These include giving notice of:
- Mold in the property
- Sex offenders in the area
- Recent deaths in the property
- Meth contamination
- The use of lead-based paint in the property
Once the tenants have moved in, it is their responsibility to report any damage or repairs required in the property. Then the landlord must complete these repairs within an appropriate timeline.
If the repair takes a long time or endangers the tenants living in the property, then they may be able to withhold rent until it is resolved.
6. Security Deposit Laws
Whenever you rent out a property, you have to provide a security deposit. This is usually paid along with the first month’s rent and covers any damage caused by the tenants during their time at the property.
Upon leaving the property, if any damage is noted the landlord can take money from this deposit before returning it. However, when they do this they must a detailed list of the damage and the cost of repairing it.
A landlord can only withhold enough from a security deposit to cover the cost of the repairs.
7. A Tenant’s Right to Privacy
Although tenants do not own the properties that they live in, they still have the right to privacy in their homes. It is important that both tenants and landlords are aware of this.
If you are planning on renting out your property, you should note that you will not be entitled to visit it without reason.
Landlords must give between 24- and 48-hours notice to tenants if they are planning to visit a rental property. They must also have a valid reason to do so and must visit at an acceptable time of day for their tenants.
In an emergency, a landlord may be able to visit their property. However, this still requires communication with tenants beforehand.
Keep These Laws in Mind
If you rent a property or are planning to rent yours out, these rental rules and regulations will keep you protected. Keep them in mind and you can’t go wrong.
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