As a renter, you should understand the key state and federal laws that affect your rights and duties. Understanding these laws will make you a better, more informed tenant. This could improve your experience and avoid future problems with your landlord. Here are some of the most important laws to be aware of as a renter:
Warranty of Habitability
Despite having a distinct name in different states, implied warranty of habitability laws are state laws that ensure that your rental unit is livable. This means that the rental home fulfills certain minimal criteria for things like heat, water, and electricity in most states.
Choosing a Tenant
State and federal laws give landlords the right to choose their tenants. But the laws also state that a landlord’s decision must be based on creditworthiness, income, or past history. They cannot refuse to rent to someone based on things like skin color, religion, sexual orientation, familial status, and disability.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, gender, national origin, and disability. This law was enacted in 1968 and allows renters who feel discriminated against because of one or more of these characteristics to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), no matter which state they live in.
Limiting the Number of Children
Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on how many children the tenant has. The law also states that a landlord cannot restrict children from using outdoor or common areas.
Service animals qualify as a reasonable accommodation under federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, therefore landlords cannot simply prohibit them. They also cannot charge a pet fee or raise the rent because you have a service animal. Landlords, on the other hand, can require that a service animal be vaccinated, licensed, and registered in accordance with all state and municipal laws.
The federal Fair Housing Act, enforced by HUD, also prohibits landlords from utilizing discrimination in rental property advertisements. Discriminatory advertising includes, for example, placing an ad saying that the landlord would not rent to single adults, persons of a specific age, or people in wheelchairs.
There are laws regarding how a Staunton property manager must handle your security deposit. In most cases, the law allows a landlord to collect and then hold your deposit and potentially use it to complete repairs if you are negligent and damage something while living in the house. There are federal limits set on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit – which is also determined by state law.
While there is no one federal law that makes locking out a tenant illegal, laws in every state outline the legal eviction process that makes locking a tenant out of their rental house an illegal act. Eviction is a legal process that must be followed correctly, or the landlord risks having the court rule in the tenant’s favor.
If you’re looking for a Staunton rental home and property manager who knows and will follow all applicable tenant-landlord laws, Real Property Management Summit is who you can rely on. Browse our listings online to find your next rental home!
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.