It Could Happen To You
- You are looking for an apartment, but the property manager says they don’t rent to families with young children.
- The freezing winter temperatures have arrived, but there’s no heat in your apartment and the landlord has not returned your calls or emails.
- You moved out two months ago, but the landlord hasn’t returned your security deposit yet.
Whether you are a tenant, a landlord, or a property manager, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to housing.
Federal law protects against civil rights violations in housing.
According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords may not refuse housing to a potential tenant based on race, nationality, sex, familial status, religion or disability. There are often additional protections in state and local law. In the event of discrimination violating the Fair Housing Act, contacting HUD directly. HUD has its own investigators to look into possible infractions and can pursue violators.
Tenant rights are mostly governed by state or local laws.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly, check your state’s laws on tenant and landlord rights. Tenants’ rights typically fall under the jurisdiction of state or local government.
You have a right to livable conditions.
All tenants have a right to a habitable space to live in, meaning it has including working plumbing, electricity, and heat. According to Indiana law, the landlord must comply with all building and health codes and provide a safe and clean dwelling. The rental unit must be clean, with toilets, furnaces, and windows working. Locks must be on every outside door or doors that lead to a common area.
You must pay your rent.
If you fail to pay your rent, landlords have a right to pursue eviction. Even if your landlord is not performing repairs or other duties, rent is not a bargaining chip to get what you want from the landlord. Refusing to pay rent for any reason still puts you at risk of eviction.
The law trumps your lease.
Sometime landlords may be unaware of the specifics of tenant and landlord rights, or they may try to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know your rights. If you sign a lease that includes rules that violate tenants’ rights, the fraudulent policies cannot be enforced by the landlord or law.
You should document everything.
Preparation is the best protection. When you move in, use a checklist to note any needed repairs and photograph every room. Make sure both the tenant and property manager or landlord sign the completed checklist and make sure you both have a copy. Store the photographs in a safe place until you move out. When you move out, if the landlord tries to charge you for damages you documented when you moved in, you’re far more likely to avoid a fee. Also, keep dates and documents of every repair request should you need evidence of attempts to fix problems.
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