What Are My Rights As A Residential Tenant?

First and foremost in many states, the residential tenant is protected by the implied warranty of habitability. Habitability means that the leased premises must meet those minimum standards to make it safe for the tenant to live there. For example, a dwelling must have heat in the winter, drinkable water, sanitary and safe conditions and so on. This warranty exists no matter what the lease says. If the warranty is breached, the tenant may be able to withhold the rent until the conditions or problems are remedied. In extreme or prolonged situations, the tenant is able to terminate the lease agreement. Defects and unappealing cosmetic problems which do not effect the habitability of the premises, such as squeaky door or floors, poor paint or old carpeting, are not covered by the warranty of habitability. However, the tenant may be able to force the landlord to correct these conditions if the repair or replacement of such defects were negotiated terms in the lease.

Residential tenants in many states are also entitled to the benefit of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. This is the right of the tenant to fully use and enjoy the premises within the terms and conditions of the lease, without interference or disturbance from the landlord or anyone acting on her/his behalf. This does not mean, however, that the landlord is necessarily responsible for the acts of others that the landlord cannot control.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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