Tenant's Rights

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Tenant's Rights










Tenants and landlords are often thought to be as adversarial as cats and dogs. But as many pet owners know, cats and dogs often get along beautifully, sometimes becoming as bonded to each other as to their owners. So it is with tenants and landlords, many of whom become close, personal friends.

The easiest path to a stress-free relationship is for both parties to know and understand their rights and obligations.

Disclaimer: The following is provided as general information, not legal advice. If you have a specific concern you should contact an attorney.

First, you need to determine whether or not you are, indeed, a "Tenant." If you rent a room in a boarding house, hotel, or a furnished, pay-by-the week apartment, you may not be a tenant, but a "guest."

This is an important distinction, because if you are legally a guest, your landlord does not have to go through any legal procedure to evict you. If you are late with your rent, he may simply be able to change the lock on your door with no notice to you and he may be able to sell your belongings to cover any past due rent. If you are uncertain about your status, talk to an Atlanta Legal Aid Society lawyer well before you are in danger of being thrown out.

If you are in fact a Tenant or Lessee, then following are your basic rights.

Basic Tenant Rights:

  1. A clean, livable, safe place in which to reside. This includes functioning heat, water, electricity, doors and windows. This does not mean that the landlord is responsible for paying for your heat, water or electric service, which you are usually expected to obtain for yourself, but simply that she must provide the appliances or equipment through which these services are delivered.

  2. You have the right to have your residence kept in the condition in which you rented it, except, of course, for normal wear and tear.

  3. Necessary repairs (except for those caused by you, your family, friends or guests) should be performed within a reasonable time limit. Unless you know your landlord and know that this will be done, you should always put these requests in writing, dated, and keep a copy of the request. The law does not specifically define "reasonable," but my own criteria are that non-emergency repairs should be started within 72 hours of your request. Emergency repairs, of course, should be started as soon as possible; certainly within 24 hours.

  4. If the landlord does not make necessary repairs within a reasonable time, you have the right to hire a competent repairman yourself and deduct the cost from your rent, after first notifying the landlord, in writing, of your intention to do so. When you send in the rent, minus the cost of repairs, you must include a receipt as proof that it was done and paid for.

  5. You have the right to enjoy your home free from invasion of privacy and disturbances by the landlord or manager, except for reasonable inspections to insure the place is being kept clean and in good order. You should receive 24 hours' notice before such inspections unless the manager/landlord has cause to believe that there is an emergency situation.

  6. You have the right to terminate your lease if the premises become unlivable due to the landlord's failure to make necessary repairs.

  7. If your rent is late, or if you are in violation of the terms of your lease, you have the right to receive written notice from the landlord of her intention to terminate the lease. This must be sent five days prior to landlord filing an eviction notice with the court.

  8. You have the right to receive your security deposit (minus the costs of any damages caused by you or any back rents or fees you owe) returned in full within 30 days of the termination of your lease, or within the time period (if less) specified in your lease.

Of course, landlords have rights too, and tenants have responsibilities.




















Basic Tenant Responsibilities
  1. To pay rent on time and, if you are occasionally late, to pay as promptly as possible and include the required late fee. This is not an arbitrary matter. Remember, landlords have mortgage payments to make, and if they are not able to make them due to tenants' late rent, they have to pay very large additional fees and may have to borrow the money at high interest rates to make payments.

  2. To promptly inform landlord of any necessary repairs. Most landlords want to keep their properties in the best possible condition, and small repairs unreported by tenants can become large, expensive repairs later. Also, a minor problem unreported on Thursday can escalate into a major emergency on the weekend when repair personnel are unavailable or difficult to reach.

  3. To allow landlord and/or her assigns immediate access to tenant's home to perform said repairs.

  4. To promptly report to the landlord any problems with other tenants (noise, possible crime, hostilities, dirty housekeeping leading to infestations of bugs, etc.).

    To promptly report to the landlord any problems of loitering, panhandling, crime, or any other untoward activity in the immediate neighborhood of the property.













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