Tenants and Crime Prevention

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 What is a Tenant, and What Rights do Tenants Have?

A tenant is a person who, according to the law, is occupying or owning land due to renting it from a landlord. A rental agreement or lease that has been established and signed by the property’s owner grants a renter the right to use and occupy a specific rental property (the landlord).

As long as they follow the guidelines outlined in the contract, which includes paying rent, tenants are granted this right.

By being aware of your rights as a renter, you may act better as one while standing up for them if necessary. State-specific laws govern tenant rights and landlord-tenant relationships. Tenants often think they don’t have many rights because the property doesn’t belong to them, but in reality, they enjoy a wide range of rights. State laws also affect tenant rights, even though the negotiated lease mostly sets down the terms of the landlord-tenant relationship.

There are a few instances of eviction safeguards, such as those that apply if a landlord goes into foreclosure:

  • Provisions against discrimination, such as those provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with
  • Disabilities Act, which forbid discrimination against renters based on their protected status (age, disability, religion, etc.);
  • Property requirements, include the need to maintain your flat in habitable condition and the right to modest repairs;
  • If necessary, a proper eviction procedure; and
  • Return of suitable security deposits in a timely manner, with only justifiable reductions made from the initial security deposit payment.

You do have a right to privacy even though you might be renting or leasing someone else’s property. Your landlord is not allowed to come and go as they choose. Instead, your landlord must often give you notice in advance. The period that the landlord must give the renter notice varies by state.

What Privileges Do Landlords Possess?

To better grasp what is and is not suitable during your landlord-tenant relationship, it is crucial to understand what rights your landlord has been granted.

Again, landlord rights will differ by state, but the following general rights should be understood:

  • Although your landlord cannot evict you without cause, they have the right to do so when doing so is appropriate and legal: This is frequently the result of the tenant’s failure to pay the rent or other lease obligations. No matter the reason for the eviction, the renter cannot be physically “thrown out,” and the landlord is not allowed to change the locks while the tenant is away from the rental; and
  • The ability of landlords to collect rent remains intact: This includes any late fees negotiated for payments made after the agreed-upon due date for rent. Also, landlords can increase your rent per the terms of your particular agreement.

Landlords also have the option to choose and choose their tenants. If prospective renters fall under a protected class, landlords are not permitted to discriminate against them in the housing market. However, landlords are legally permitted to choose or refuse renters based on the following criteria:

  • Past bank and credit accounts of the tenant; prior landlords, such as getting references; previous criminal records of the tenant; or
  • The estimated duration of the tenant’s occupancy of the landlord’s property.

It’s crucial to remember that while landlords can still increase your rent, many major cities now have local rent control laws in place. Landlords must abide by the rules, which impose a cap on how much they can raise the rent. Additionally, rent control laws restrict the grounds for eviction by landlords.

What Else Should a Tenant Understand?

It’s crucial to be ready before beginning a landlord-tenant relationship. When looking for a rental property, this could entail getting references from past landlords and giving your prospective landlord a recent copy of your credit report.

Possessing the required paperwork helps make a positive first impression on the landlord. Additionally, it could facilitate the development of a good rapport, which is crucial while you are renting from them.

Landlords may occasionally be held accountable for the crimes committed by strangers. As a result, it’s critical to learn about any security or crime hazards in the vicinity of your future property and what the landlord has done or intends to do to mitigate such risks. Ask the landlord if any security needs have been met. Tenants who commit crimes may also be held accountable by the landlord.

When asked to sign a lease or rental agreement, it is crucial to study the paperwork and make sure you comprehend it carefully. This agreement will set forth what to anticipate from the landlord-tenant relationship and is crucial to protecting your rights as a renter. It might be to your best advantage to look for another home if the proposed lease contains provisions to which you do not want to adhere.

What Security Measures Can Tenants Take to Deter Crime?

Tenants have access to several options for deterring crime. It’s crucial first to ascertain what safety measures a renter has implemented in their building. A tenant can do this by evaluating the security features of other neighboring buildings and contrasting them with those of your building.

Second, decide what security-related measures you would like to see implemented as a renter.

What Minimum Safety Requirements Exist?

Landlords are required to take at least some basic security precautions. These safety precautions may involve installing:

  • Locks
  • Deadbolts
  • Peepholes

There are several different types of fines for landlords who fail to offer these fundamental safeguards. Tenants may also file legal lawsuits against landlords for failing to provide these security precautions.

Should I Inform My Landlord if there are any Safety Issues?

As soon as possible, tenants should inform their landlords of any safety concerns. A tenant should hold the landlord liable for the promises made if the landlord misrepresented the safety precautions.

An open dialogue with landlords will promote goodwill and possibly prevent more legal disputes. Many landlords could offer these safety precautions out of concern for possible legal action from renters.

Can I Leave the Property Because the Security Measures are Inadequate?

If a renter believes inadequate safety measures are implemented, they may break the lease. However, if a renter intends to vacate the property, they must give the landlord adequate notice.

Additionally, a renter can lower the cost of repairs and add acceptable security measures. The security measures, however, must be appropriate given the situation.

Guidelines for Preserving Tenants’ Rights

When dealing with a landlord-tenant conflict, there are a few actions that a tenant can do to help safeguard their legal rights. A renter may also take some measures to help them avoid trouble with the law.

The following list offers some perhaps helpful advice for tenants, regardless of whether they are trying to safeguard their legal rights or stay out of trouble with the law:

  • Reviewing all pertinent local, state, and federal laws that apply to the current landlord-tenant situation;
  • Recording or documenting the process of moving into a rental home before and after;
  • Notifying a landlord as soon as possible of any issues or damages before moving into a rental property;
  • Keeping a record of any communications between the renter and their landlord discussing the problem;
  • If a tenant is required to make the repairs themselves, saving all receipts and records in a secure location (such as a physical folder, filing cabinet, digital copy, etc.); and
  • Preserving and studying any rental agreements obtained by the renter either at the time of move-in or throughout the tenancy (e.g., leases, renewed leases, extensions, etc.).

Should I Get Legal Advice Regarding Safety Issues My Landlord Won’t Address?

A knowledgeable landlord-tenant attorney can assist tenants in determining what actions against negligent landlords can be brought. Tenants can also get assistance from a landlord-tenant lawyer in understanding the rules and legislation in their state.

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