An individual who makes the decision to rent a residence--an apartment, a condo or a single-family home--not only has certain obligations to the landlord but also important rights as well. While the tenant is obliged to pay rent in a timely manner and keep the premises in good condition, he has a series of rights that are protected by law. Specifically, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is the statute that provides tenant renting rights in most U.S. states today.
The most fundamental of the tenant renting rights is that of habitability. What this means is that the tenant has an absolute right to reside in property that is in appropriate condition. For this tenant renting right to be satisfied, the premises must be in reasonable repair. In addition, the premises must have suitable heat as needed and running water. There cannot be any life-threatening defects to the premises.
Another of the tenant renting rights is that of quiet enjoyment. Quiet enjoyment means that a tenant cannot be unreasonably disrupted by other tenants in neighboring units. Issues of quiet enjoyment occur most often when a tenant is residing in a multiunit structure. The landlord has an obligation to ensure that tenants do not unduly disturb or disrupt one another.
Notice for Entrance
A tenant has a right to reasonable notice before a landlord can enter into the rented premises. Whether a notice is reasonable depends on the circumstances. If there is an emergency in the property--a broken pipe, for example--reasonable notice would be a knock at the door. On the other hand, if the landlord wants to inspect the water heater as a part of routine maintenance, at least a 24-hour notice would be reasonable.
72-Hour Notice for Noncompliance
If the tenant is alleged to be out of compliance with the terms of the lease agreement--failed to pay rent is a prime example--the tenant has the right to a 72-hour (or three-day) notice to correct the issue. In other words, the tenant has 72 hours or three days to pay the past due rent before the landlord can take further legal action.
Return of Security Deposit
When a tenant vacates the premises, that individual has the legal right to a return of the security deposit previously deposited unless the landlord has a bona fide reason to withhold all or part of the security deposit. This normally occurs if the tenant has damaged the premises or owes past due rent when he leaves the property. The landlord is required to provide a tenant in writing an itemization of specifically why the security deposit is being withheld. There is a specific period of time when this notice must be given (which varies from state to state). If the landlord fails to follow these procedures, the tenant is entitled to refund of the security deposit plus an additional amount for damages.