Homeownership is usually viewed as an existence free from the tyranny of landlords, but renters aren't necessarily beholden to the whims of the one collecting the rent. And hey, there's nothing more overbearing than a mortgage, right? Not everything you need to know is going to be outlined in the lease; it's a good idea to delve deeper into what rights you have as a renter so that when issues do arise (and we sure hope they don't), you're not caught blindsided. Here's a few pointers to get you started.
— 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.
— 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.
— You have the right to have visitors, as long as they're not creating a nuisance. Just 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's having mail forwarded to your place.
— 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.
— Appliances may or not be required depending on local housing codes; again, this is something to look out for in the lease.
— Fun fact: 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.
— 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.
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright