Laws surrounding rental housing seek to protect the landlord-renter relationship. Therefore, compliance with and knowledge of state, federal, and local regulations is vital for both parties.
While property owners want to operate a lucrative business and safeguard their investment, renters seek a peaceful living in their rental units and protect their rights. Understanding your rights as a renter will help you protect yourself in case of violations. Here’s what you need to know about fair housing.
Under the FHA, landlords shouldn’t discriminate against you based on gender, race, religion, familial status, or disability. This comprises advertisements that prohibit any of the protected characteristics.
Saving up money to cover the first month’s rent and deposit for a rental can be a huge task. But when discrimination takes place, such a basic need can be virtually impossible to secure. You have the right to equal treatment by a landlord. Illegal discrimination arises when the property owner:
- Declines to rent to people of a particular race
- Has unreasonable limitations on the persons that may reside in the rental
- Offers facilities or services for certain renters only
- Develops different standards or terms for particular renters
Beware that the FHA applies to anybody who deals with renters and potential renters, including landlords, property owners, and agents. Even if the property owner doesn’t personally discriminate against prospective renters or tenants, the landlord might still be liable for the employees’ civil rights violations.
A landlord should base tenant selection on objective and pre-established criteria. Moreover, the landlord might reject prospective renters based on a fair screening procedure that expects all renters to undergo a similar application process.
In the event that a possible breach of rights has arisen under the FHA, you can lodge a complaint with the HUD within a year of the alleged discrimination. An investigation will take place to determine whether to dismiss the complaint or try to reach an agreement. Since local and state areas have anti-discrimination laws as well, so you may file with a suitable agency.
A habitable unit is an apartment or home that’s reasonably fit to reside in. This implies that your unit must be free from dangerous conditions such as bad wiring, no running water, a considerable infestation of cockroaches or rats, or other issues that obstruct its habitability significantly.
In nearly every state, there’s an implied assurance on the lease that the unit will be appropriate for inhabiting. Therefore, the landlord should maintain considerable compliance with any pertinent building codes and make necessary repairs.
In the event that your unit’s condition is below the required minimum by the local building code, a few lawful remedies exist. To begin with, you can request repairs in writing. In case the landlord refuses or neglects to make the necessary repairs, consider reporting the landlord to the building inspector locally.
If both steps fail, there’s the possibility of rent withdrawal. You should place a segment of the rent, equal to the decrease in the apartment’s value from the code violation into a different bank account.
If you’ve paid the entire rent, it might be possible to recover part of it as overpayment because of the violations. Lastly, if the landlord tries to evict you for underpayment or nonpayment, the code breaches will function as a defense.
Landlord-tenant laws seek to benefit both parties to ensure a healthy relationship. Therefore, it’s imperative that both identify the relevant laws to avoid legal issues. If you’re thinking of renting this guide offers invaluable insight into fair housing.
For more information on fair housing, contact us at Apartment Agents or leave a message.