Know Your Rights: Renting

Know Your Rights: Renting

As a renter, you have rights during the application process and after you move in. In addition to federal protections (Fair Housing Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act), your state likely has laws in place as well.

Discrimination Not Allowed

When you’re applying for or renting a home, the landlord or property owner can’t discriminate against you based on 

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex
  • familial status
  • disability

If you’re asked questions during the application process that you feel are discriminatory, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (your state might offer additional protections).

Credit/Tenant Reports Must Follow the Rules

Most landlords require a credit check or tenant report as part of their rental application process—meaning they also have to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you’re rejected because of any information in the report, the landlord must provide you with 

  • an adverse action notice that has the name and contact information of the company that supplied the report
  • a statement that the landlord (not the screening company) made the decision

They might not use the information from your credit/tenant report for any other reason and also must dispose of your information following Federal Trade Commission rules.

If you think the landlord is violating the rules, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and contact an attorney.

Notice Before Entering Your Rental

Many states have a specific notice requirement (usually 24 – 48 hours) before your landlord (or someone they allow) enters your rental. Since this varies from state to state, you’ll want to check the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s State Information Resource for more information about your state’s notice requirement.