On the "Did you know…?" front, there's a lot of gray area when it comes to renting, and especially in Atlanta, where paying landlords on a monthly basis is a relatively new craze. Beyond the common sense stuff — Georgia law frowns on housing three families in your apartment — there's a lot to know that lurks beneath the surface of housing codes. For example, here's a fun fact: In Georgia, if someone was murdered in your apartment, your landlord doesn't necessarily have to tell you about it. But if you ask directly, they are obligated to spill the facts to the best of their knowledge. Remember: Renters aren't necessarily beholden to the whims of the one collecting the rent. So, to better fight for your rights, we've compiled a shortlist of key pointers that could be valuable in your hunt for an apartment or house to rent.
· On the basic needs front, know that appliances may or not be required depending on local housing codes. This is something to look out for in the lease.
· A landlord has no obligation to provide parking beyond what's stated in the lease. If it's on-street parking, you're on your own, buddy.
· You have the right to have visitors, as long as they're not creating a nuisance.
· BUT … be wary of having the same person over too many nights in a row; at some point, they could be considered an unauthorized tenant. And it certainly won't help matters it that person is having mail forwarded to your place.
· Your landlord has a strict responsibility to keep his/her property up to local housing codes. Although these rules vary, they're all created with the goal of maintaining a safe, enjoyable place for you to rest your head at night. If the landlord is in violation of these codes, he/she can be ordered to repair, vacate, close or demolish (!) the property. Thankfully, if the place ends up being condemned, you have the right to move; the landlord has technically broken the lease.
· The landlord must provide smoke detectors for every unit, and on every floor if the unit goes vertical. It's your responsibility to keep them in working order, so change that damn battery and stop driving your neighbor crazy with beeps.
· There's such a thing as a rental agreement with no written lease; it's known as a tenancy at will. Even in this case, the same landlord-tenant laws still apply. If you want to terminate this kind of agreement, you've got to give 30-days notice, and if the landlord wishes to do the same, a 60-day notice is required. But really, you should always have a lease in writing.
· You have the right to be free from the hassles of crappy neighbors. If they're causing a disturbance on a regular basis that would annoy a normal person (definitions are understandably blurry), then you can ask to be released from the lease or transferred, but only if the landlord fails to respond.
· You have the right to privacy in your apartment, barring a few situations. A landlord can enter without prior notice for the purpose of preventing damage, responding to an emergency, or "curing" a dangerous condition. So hide the bongs, Atlanta.
Do you know of any (true) and pithy advice that we missed? Please, feel free to advise the renters of Atlanta in the comments.
· Atlanta Renters: Here's How To Fight For Your Rights [Curbed]
· More from Curbed University [Curbed Atlanta]
[ABOVE: Illustration by Eric Lebofsky]