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Tenant Privacy Rights and the Right to Repairs

Every landlord must respect their tenants' right to privacy. Tenant privacy rights are important to understand and can help you solve some of the most common landlord-tenant disputes.

When Your Landlord Can Enter Your Property

Because of the importance placed on tenant privacy rights, there are only a few limited circumstances where a landlord can lawfully enter your rental property. The specifics vary from state to state, but in general your landlord can only enter your rental property:

  • If there is an emergency
  • If the landlord needs to make repairs
  • If the landlord wants to show the property to prospective renters/buyers

How Much Notice Your Landlord Must Give Before Entering Your Property

Typically, most states require your landlord to provide at least 24 hours notice and sometimes more before entering your premises. The one exception in most states is that, in the case of an emergency, your landlord may enter without advance notice.

Your Landlord's Duty to Maintain Your Property

In almost all states, your landlord owes you a duty of "habitability," which means that the landlord must ensure that you can receive heat, water, electricity and provide you with a weatherproof, clean and structurally-sound building.

Your Landlord's Duty to Repair

To fulfill your landlord's duty to maintain your property, the landlord can either take care of the
repair or have you repair the problem and reimburse you or give you a reduction in rent equal to the cost of repair. If, however, you do not agree to do the repair, the landlord is not relieved of his or her duty and must find a way to repair the property.

The Tenant's Duty to Maintain the Property

Tenant privacy rights come with a price. In addition to your landlord's duties, you also have a duty to maintain a clean and sanitary rental property. If you don't maintain the rental property, you may be on the hook for the repair bill.

When the Landlord Fails to Make Repairs

It's difficult to know what to do when your landlord won't make the repairs that need to be made because the answer varies greatly state to state. Here are some of the more common options:

  • Do the repairs yourself and deduct the costs from your next rent payment
  • Pay less rent than is owed until the problem is fixed
  • Withhold all of your rent until the problem Is fixed
  • Move out without responsibility for future rent
  • Call your local building inspector who can order the landlord to make repairs
  • Sue your landlord for a partial refund of past rent

The best advice is always to communicate with the landlord before taking any action to try and have the problem repaired as soon as possible.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you
navigate any landlord-tenant issues.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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