You should be informed of the important local, state, and federal laws that affect your rights and obligations as a renter. You will be a better and more knowledgeable tenant if you are aware of these laws. This could improve your experience and avoid future problems with your landlord. Here are some of the most important laws to be aware of as a renter:
Warranty of Habitability
Although it is known differently in different states, implied warranty of habitability laws are state laws that ensure that your rental unit is livable. This means that the rental home fulfills certain minimal criteria for things like heat, water, and electricity in most states.
Choosing a Tenant
State and federal laws give landlords the right to choose their tenants. But the laws also state that a landlord’s decision must be based on creditworthiness, income, or past history. They cannot refuse to rent to someone based on things like skin color, religion, sexual orientation, familial status, and disability.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, gender, national origin, and disability. This law was enacted in 1968 and allows renters who feel discriminated against because of one or more of these characteristics to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), no matter which state they live in.
Limiting the Number of Children
Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on how many children the tenant has. The law also states that a landlord cannot restrict children from using outdoor or common areas.
Service animals qualify as a reasonable accommodation under federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, thus landlords cannot merely forbid them. Additionally, if you have a service animal, they cannot increase your rent or demand a pet fee. On the other hand, landlords have the right to demand that a service animal is registered, licensed, and up to date on all relevant state and municipal legislation.
The federal Fair Housing Act, enforced by HUD, also prohibits landlords from utilizing discrimination in rental property advertisements. Discriminatory advertising includes, for example, placing an ad saying that the landlord would not rent to single adults, persons of a specific age, or people in wheelchairs.
There are laws regarding how a Belchertown property manager must handle your security deposit. In most cases, the law allows a landlord to collect and then hold your deposit and potentially use it to complete repairs if you are negligent and damage something while living in the house. There are federal limits set on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit – which is also determined by state law.
While there is no one federal law that makes locking out a tenant illegal, laws in every state outline the legal eviction process that makes locking a tenant out of their rental house an illegal act. Eviction is a legal process that must be followed correctly, or the landlord risks having the court rule in the tenant’s favor.
If you’re looking for a Belchertown rental home and property manager who knows and will follow all applicable tenant-landlord laws, Real Property Management Bay State West is who you can rely on. Browse our listings online to find your next rental home!
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.