Tenant Privacy Rights and the Right to Repairs
Every landlord must respect their tenants' right to privacy. Tenant privacy rights are important to understand. Knowing the ins and outs of the law can help you solve some of the most common landlord-tenant disputes.
When Can Your Landlord 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 after giving proper notice The specifics vary from state to state, but in general, your landlord can only enter your rental unit if:
- There is an emergency
- The landlord needs to make repairs
- The landlord wants to show the property to prospective renters/buyers
How Much Notice Must Your Landlord Give Before Entering Your Property?
Typically, most state and federal laws require your landlord to provide at least 24 hours' notice and sometimes more before entering your premises. The one exception in most states is for emergencies. In those cases, your landlord may enter without advance notice.
What's 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, and electricity, and provide you with a weatherproof, clean, and structurally-sound building.
What's Your Landlord's Duty to Repair?
Your landlord has the duty to maintain the real estate, including the common areas. To fulfill your landlord's duty to maintain your property, the landlord can either make the necessary repairs or have you repair the problem. If you do the repairs, the landlord needs to reimburse you or deduct the cost of the repairs from your month's rent.
If, however, you do not agree to do the repairs, the landlord is not relieved of their duty and must find a way to repair the property within a reasonable time.
What Is the Tenant's Duty to Maintain the Property?
A tenant's right to privacy comes 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.
What Should You Do When Your 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 depending on your state's laws. 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 your landlord before taking any action. Give them a chance to make repairs in a timely manner.
Did Your Landlord Fail to Make Repairs? Speak to an Attorney
Landlord-tenant laws and lease terms require landlords to make necessary repairs to their property. Landlords are also required to give reasonable notice before entering your rental unit. If your landlord is not complying with these requirements, you may have a right to sue them at the small claims court. Speak to a landlord-tenant attorney near you to get legal assistance.