Rights and Obligations of Tenants

Upon entering a lease contract agreement in United States, a tenant has rights and obligations prescribed by the following laws and statues- The Housing Act of 1988, The Family Law Act of 1996, The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 and The Protection from Eviction of 1977.

Basically, under these laws the tenant has the following rights-

1. Nobody can enter his rented premises without his permission. Even the owner can not just enter the rented premises without previous permission from the tenant. The purpose of this is to safeguard the privacy of the tenant. Tenant is entitled to a quiet and exclusive enjoyment of the property.

2. The renter is entitled to a minimum standard of accommodations like hot and cold water supply, heating facility, ventilation, toilet facility and drainage system. The owner must maintain the condition of the place he is renting out, similar to that condition when it was rented to the said tenant or when the lease contract was signed by the two parties. The tenant is entitled to a reimbursement, if he spent for the up keep of the property. But the tenant must notify the owner if he plans to spend for repairs of the property.

3. The tenant is allowed to have a lease contract up to 4 years duration. The tenant must notify the owner of his intention to occupy the place longer (maximum 4 years from signing of lease contract) at least one month before the expiration of their lease contract. The owner is obliged to honor this.

But the owner has also the following options in the lease contract-

• Mandatory eviction- this can happen when- 1) the owner wants to live in the property. 2) The owner has gone bankrupt and the property is being repossessed. 3) The tenant has rental arrears of more than two months.

• Discretionary eviction – the owner can ask the court to eject the tenant in case if the latter defaults in his rental payments, or committed some other violations of the lease contract.

4. Effective January 2009, all homes for rent must have Building Energy Rating (BER) for the prospective renters to compare energy consumption of the house for rent.

5. The tenant is entitled to a certain minimum time of notice before termination of contract; but in case of repossession of property, the renter can be evicted immediately.

All of the above are provided by law, except in cases where the tenant lives with the landlord in his home itself. Tenant has reduced rights in this case. Landlord can evict the tenant even without court order. It can be done in as short as seven days.

Coupled with these rights, the tenant has also the following obligations to fulfill-

1. Keep the property in good condition like when it was turned over to him by his landlord.

2. He must pay his rental on time and religiously.

3. He must inform the landlord of all the occupants of the house.

4. The property must not be used for illegal purposes.

5. Tenant must follow these stipulated in the contract to the letter.