The relationship between tenant and landlord is usually a troubled one: landlords want to squeeze their renters for rent without having to spend big bucks on repairs and upgrades, while tenants don't care about the bottom line and just want a nice place to live. However, landlords usually have the information advantage over their tenants, which can make for some tricky situations. Here are a few rights that, as a tenant anywhere, you simply must know you have.
Right to the Terms of Your Lease
After you sign the lease, things get trickier, but tenants have a lot of power to dictate terms of the lease and potential repairs to the apartment before signing the document. Things like cracked windows or scuffed floors, if written into the lease, must be fixed by the landlord or his associates or they will face legal penalties. It may be a good idea to have a real estate consultation in Denver or your particular locale so you fully understand your lease before signing: professional firms can make sure that all of the Ts are crossed and the Is dotted.
Right to Rent Increases Dictated by Guidelines
Landlords cannot arbitrarily raise the rents on their properties without formally requesting permission from the housing department, and then notifying you in writing between two and four months prior in writing (depending on the city or town.) In most situations, landlords can raise the rent on a unit once per year, and only by a certain amount dictated by government negotiations—usually between 2 and 5 percent.
Right to Mediation by Tenant Board
Tenants in every city in the U.S. have the right to formally request a hearing by the tenant board in order to challenge the behavior of their landlord. Although these mediation sessions can take a long time to develop, they can be used effectively as a weapon or threat against a lazy or inept landlord.
Right to Privacy
In most, if not all, cities, landlords can only enter the establishment between certain hours of the day. They also must notify tenants of intent to enter in writing 24 hours before the actual entry. These guidelines are only relaxed in emergency situations and in cases where the landlord is attempting to show the dwelling to prospective tenants.
Landlords have a lot of power over tenants, but a responsible tenant knows his or her rights and will not be intimidated or pushed around. Knowledge is the best weapon in a situation with a power asymmetry, and tenants should use research to their advantage in every possible situation.