What Every Tenant Needs To Know

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There are a lot of things you can do to help you get the apartment of your dreams and establish a smooth, positive relationship with your landlord. The first step is to make sure you are prepared. Once you have found an apartment or other rental unit that you like, get an application and fill it out. You should also get references from previous landlords and possibly consider getting a recent copy of your credit report. Having these materials ready will set a good impression with a prospective landlord. In addition, here are some other helpful hints:

Learn About Your Neighborhood and Building

Before you choose where you want to rent or lease, try to find out about the surrounding neighborhood. Learn about any crime or other security risks and find out what your prospective landlord has done or is willing to do. Also, try to find out what security requirements your landlord has to meet. Your landlord can be held responsible for the criminal acts of strangers as well as the criminal acts of tenants.

Know What You're Getting Into

When you are given a lease or rental agreement to sign, make sure you read through the entire thing carefully and make sure you understand it. Your lease may have clauses that turn you off to the unit. For example, if you own a dog and the lease has a no pets clause. It is important to be aware of these things before you sign the lease.

Know Your Rights

Tenants are entitled to a wide variety of rights. For example, your unit must be habitable and you may have the right to minor repairs. Knowing your rights allows you to assert them when and if necessary.

It's Your Apartment

While you may just be renting or leasing the property, you still have a right to privacy. This means that your landlord cannot enter the premises whenever s/he pleases. Rather, your landlord usually has to provide you with some kind of notice in advance. The amount of time in advance varies from state to state.

Get Renters' Insurance

Protect yourself from liability and cover your valuables by purchasing renters' insurance. If there is a fire or flood, your landlord's insurance will not cover your losses. Renters' insurance is usually affordable and can protect you and your valuables.

Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

When you decide it is time to move on, make sure you get your security deposit back and make sure your landlord didn¿t charge you unnecessarily. Landlords can only deduct for certain things, mainly the cost of repairing damages. Be sure to look over or find out what your landlord charged you for.

Know When an Eviction Is Legal

Your landlord cannot simply kick you out without a good reason.  Most of the time landlords won't evict you unless it is proper, but it doesn¿t hurt to be sure. You can learn more about evictions my consulting a lawyer.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Landlord-Tenant Problem?

Most of the time it will not be necessary to have a lawyer, but if you have a serious problem or would like to learn more about what rights you have as a tenant, an experienced real estate lawyer can help. Landlord-tenant law varies greatly from state to state (and can even vary within a state) and is always changing. A lawyer with experience in real-estate law can inform you of your rights and provide advice on how to deal with a landlord.

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Last Modified: 10-07-2013 10:26 AM PDT

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