While it is important to understand your responsibilities as a tenant, it is equally important to know the responsibilities that your landlord will have towards you, your individual unit and the apartment complex as a whole.
A landlord’s responsibilities do not end at lease agreements. They are legally required to ensure the safety of their apartment complex as well as handle maintenance and repair issues. Should a need to enter your apartment arise for any reason, a landlord must provide notice unless there is an emergency that puts the complex, you or other tenants at risk. Knowing the responsibilities of a landlord can aid you in understanding when to contact a landlord for a repair or other issue during your residency. It is also important to know your right to a nondiscriminatory environment and the steps that you can take if you feel that you have been discriminated against or your housing rights have been violated. To learn more about your landlord’s obligations and responsibilities, review the information that has been provided in the sections below.
There are two types of common rental agreements, leases and month-to-month rentals. In most cases, you will likely sign a lease for a period of six months, 12 months or 24 months. With a lease in place, the landlord will not be permitted to change any of the rental terms of your agreement, including rent increases. While a landlord has the right to raise a rental amount with a lease renewal, no aspect of the rental agreement can be changed during the lease term by either the tenant or the landlord, unless both parties agree to the rental agreement change.
If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, then these agreements can be changed or ended at any time without prior notice. Your rent can be increased for the following month at any time, the unit can become unavailable (commonly done in cases of renovations) and you have the right to move out at any point during the month-to-month agreement.
If you are ever concerned about any portion of your lease agreement, then it is important to discuss these concerns with the landlord before you sign an agreement. This also includes anything that is not strictly included in a rental agreement. Ensure that the changes or clarifications are obtained in writing and be sure to fill in or cross out any blanks within the agreement before you sign the lease, as it can be difficult to get out of your lease once agreed upon.
Most rental agreements include a refundable security deposit. The landlord has the ability to set this deposit up to two months worth of rent. For example, if your rent is $800 each month, then the maximum amount of security deposit you will be expected to provide is $1,600. This deposit maximum does not include other fees such as application fees or pet deposits. It is your landlord’s responsibility to collect the security deposit from you when you sign your lease for the home. At the end of your lease, your landlord must provide you with your deposit back, so long as there are no damages to the unit, you adequately clean the apartment before you vacate and you are not behind on your rent. If you have not completed your responsibilities to clean the apartment before vacating, if you are behind on rent, if you break your lease or if there is damage to your unit, then your landlord does have the right to use your security deposit as finance for any of those situations. If your deposit does not cover the amount of damages found in your apartment, then you may end up owing the landlord.
One of your landlord’s key responsibilities is to maintain the safety of your unit and the apartment complex. Landlords are required to provide working smoke detectors in every unit and throughout the complex. In many states, a landlord is also legally obligated to provide working carbon monoxide detectors. If you experience an issue related to either of these devices, then it is important that you notify the landlord immediately. Learn more about what to expect with moving into your new place here.
Your landlord is responsible for handing larger maintenance issues and repairs to the apartment. Generally, you will be responsible for minor repairs such as cleaning, replacing light bulbs and plunging clogged toilets. However, if you experience a greater maintenance or repair issue such a plumbing leaks, roof leaks, broken windows, broken doors, wiring issues, broken appliances or problems with your heating or cooling systems, then it is important to contact your landlord right away. The amount of time that a landlord has to complete a repair does vary from one state to the next, but repairs or maintenance problems that pose an immediate hazard must generally be fixed quickly as a landlord’s first responsibility is to the safety of tenants.
As mentioned previously, a landlord is responsible for fixing any leaks and broken windows. This is, in part, to prevent mold in an apartment. Furthermore, the building codes found in most states require that new construction include sufficient ventilation in order to prevent the development of mold and similar hazards. Landlords are responsible for meeting building codes and ensuring that the unit is in a habitable condition.
Except in cases of an emergency, a landlord must provide you with at least a 24-hour notice prior to entering your rental unit and a landlord or maintenance person may only enter during reasonable times. Typically, a reasonable time frame is considered normal business hours. A landlord or employee may only enter your unit if they have a valid reason, such as inspection, repairs and maintenance. The landlord’s right to enter cannot be abused as a form of harassment.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits landlords from discriminating based upon race, color, national origin, religion, sex familial status and disability. Familial status refers to marital status and the presence of children within the home. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot discriminate in the rental, sale and other housing-related transactions. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, then you can file a complaint with your local Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or submit a complaint online. Once you have done so, the HUD will investigate your claim and work towards resolving any acts of discrimination.