What Are a Rental Tenant's Rights?


Quick Answer

Federal law stipulates that landlords cannot discriminate based on gender, disability, family status, race and religion, according to Nolo. Tenants also have the right to privacy and notice when a landlord needs to make repairs or show the property to purchasers or prospective tenants.

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What Are a Rental Tenant's Rights?
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Full Answer

Some tenant rights vary by state. For example, Illinois tenants are protected by the Residential Tenants' Right to Repair Act, which stipulates that renters are allowed to deduct costs of repairs they have to make personally from the cost of their rent, according to the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing. In many states, landlords are required by law to fix major problems in a timely manner, such as malfunctioning plumbing, heating and electrical problems as well as safety hazards such as damaged floors, roofs and stairways.

Tenants also have rights with eviction proceedings, according to Nolo. For example, a landlord cannot evict tenants without following procedures outlined by state law that typically require written notice when rental payments are not received. In most states, a landlord must file a lawsuit and win a judgment to legally evict a tenant. The tenant has the right to defense in a court of law regarding unfair practices or justifications for late payments or non-payments. For a landlord to evict a tenant, the courts must determine that the tenant did something wrong that justifies termination of the lease.

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