Renting home or business space from an owner comes with legal rights and responsibilities. The landlord can’t do ‘anything they want’, and neither can the tenant. Federal, state and local laws all apply. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, tenant applications can’t be rejected based on race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, family status, or mental or physical disability. The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires landlords to advise that tenants can request a credit report if they are rejected based on a credit check. State and local codes usually cover property, contract issues and landlord conduct. A safe, habitable building is one of the key property rights applicable to tenants. Other codes cover tenant-landlord contracts, including security deposits, interest, return dates, and in some cases, even rental rates. Rental arrangements should always be documented in writing, and tenants are entitled to copies of the documents. Conditions for ending rental are usually defined in laws as well — and even eviction conditions. It’s advisable for a tenant to document everything – including photos of property condition – to minimize disputes with facts should something arise.
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