As a renter, many laws affect you and your landlord, too. While some of these laws may come from the state you live in, others are federal laws that apply to renters in all states. Knowing these federal laws can help you understand what to expect as a renter and your rights (and what your landlord can and cannot legally do). This article will examine the top federal rental laws you should know about as a tenant.
The first thing most people think of regarding federal laws that affect all renters is the Fair Housing Act. This law, enacted in 1968, states that your landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your race, skin color, sex, religion, national origin, age, familial status, or mental or physical disability. At times, discrimination can be subtle or take on different forms. But anyone who suspects their rental application was denied for these reasons can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The same is true if your landlord refuses to make reasonable accommodations for you if you have a disability.
Fair Credit Reporting
Another significant federal law that affects renters is the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This federal law defines how a landlord can use your credit history to decide whether to rent to you. It states that the landlord must have your permission to run a credit check on you and that the landlord must tell you if your application was denied because of something in your credit report. You can also request a free copy of your credit report, a good thing to do before you apply for a rental home. That way, you can know what your potential landlord will see when they run your credit and be ready to explain anything that might raise some red flags.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act states that a landlord cannot refuse to rent because you have a service animal. They also cannot charge you additional “pet fees” or increase the amount of rent because of your service animal. If you have a service animal, you may be asked to prove it is licensed and registered according to all state and local laws. A legitimate service animal is a reasonable accommodation that a landlord cannot legally deny.
HUD Equal Access Rule
A recent federal law affecting renters is the HUD Equal Access Rule. This rule states that landlords and other housing providers may not refuse to rent a property because the applicant identifies as LGBTQ+. As with other forms of discrimination, turning down an application because of a tenant’s sexual orientation or gender identity violates federal law and can be reported to HUD.
Finally, federal law requires that anyone renting a property built before 1978 provide tenants with information and disclosure about the potential for lead exposure. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint, which tends to flake or chip off over time. Exposure to lead can cause serious health hazards, which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires landlords to disclose whether the property has lead paint. You can also ask your landlord to send you evidence of a certified lead hazard inspection.
Knowing the federal laws that apply to you and your landlord as a renter can help you avoid falling victim to unscrupulous property owners. But if you want to ensure that you will be treated legally and with respect, contact Real Property Management Key Response. Our Madison property management professionals understand and comply with federal, state, and local laws. Contact us today to learn more or view our listings online.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.