Federal and state laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or disability.
Seek legal advice if you believe you have been subjected to any of the following on the basis of those reasons:
A written lease is not necessary but you should sign one for your own protection. Without it, your landlord can terminate your tenancy at any time.
Ask for a copy of the lease and read it carefully before you agree to rent the premises. Ask questions if you aren’t sure about any of its terms.
Look for these important terms:
Be sure to get a copy of the signed lease before you leave the office after signing it and be sure to get a number to call for emergencies.
Don’t delay to seek legal advice if the landlord refuses to make necessary repairs of problems that render the premises unsafe or unhealthy.
Be sure to thoroughly inspect the premises before you move your belongings in and note any defects and items requiring repair. Your landlord may have a move-in inventory. Record what you find on that form and supplement it with additional sheets if necessary. This will protect your deposit from repair charges when you move out. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself if your landlord doesn’t give you one. Take photographs, if possible.
Your lease will set forth what you have to do to maintain the property, so be sure you understand what it says about your maintenance obligations.
You and your landlord have certain rights and obligations if the landlord attempts to evict you. If you receive a notice of eviction, seek legal advice immediately.
The lease will state what condition the premises must be in after you move out, but expect to have to clean the premises.
The landlord is obligated to return your security deposit within thirty days.
The landlord is only required to provide locks for exterior doors and windows.
The landlord is required to install some smoke detectors and inspect and test them at the beginning of your tenancy. You must report any malfunctions to the landlord and if you disable any of them, you may face liability for any resulting injury or loss.
Make sure you have renter’s insurance that includes liability coverage.
Report any injuries to the landlord as soon as possible, after medical assistance is requested.
Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. You insurance company has a duty to defend you if you are sued but your failure to notify it in accordance with your policy may void your coverage for the accident.