The state and federal governments in the U.S. have come out with an extensive set of tenant rights laws that are continually revised from time to time. The reader has to understand that the following tenant rights laws might have been slightly modified from the time this article was written although it would be fair to say that a vast majority of tenant rights laws have stayed the same over a rather long period of time. Another point to note for the reader is that tenant rights laws will vary, sometimes only very slightly, from state to state and that one should read through a particular state’s tenant rights laws to find out the exact laws that are applicable in their state. This website has a resource page on tenant rights laws that is applicable in each one of the 50 states in the U.S. and readers are encouraged to find relevant information on those pages if they choose to.
Prepayment – tenant rights laws – Prepayment is nothing but the amount of money that can legally be collected by a landlord at the start of a rental contract. Generally, tenant rights laws will only allow a landlord to collect the first month’s rent and a security deposit. The tenant rights laws in some states will allow landlords to collect rental application fees and also a fee to replace the locks and keys to a rental apartment. The maximum chargeable security deposit amount will usually be capped by tenant rights laws in various states. For example, a landlord can only charge two months of rent as security deposit for an unfurnished apartment in California.
Discrimination and the fair housing act – tenant rights laws – All states will have to follow tenant rights laws pertaining to discrimination, as set forth by the fair housing act. The fair housing act will prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation etc and will also protect handicapped tenants and blind people against discrimination. The tenant rights laws will also prohibit discrimination against tenants who are supported by a state program to receive subsidized housing.
Security deposit refunds – tenant rights laws- As mentioned earlier in the article, tenant rights laws will usually regulate the amount of security deposit that is charged. Tenant rights laws will also oblige the landlords to return the security deposit back to the tenant after the end of a lease. For instance, tenant rights laws in California will require landlords to refund the security deposit within 21 days after the end of a lease. The tenancy laws will also specify that a security deposit can be used up by the landlord only to pay for legitimate expenses such as owed rent, cleaning expenses and abnormal damages in an apartment. Abnormal damages are those damages that are not caused by wear and tear. Landlords cannot make deductions to the security deposit in an effort to recover expenses spent on wear and tear repairs such as repainting as a coat of fresh paint to cover faded paint is not an abnormal expense.