Tenant laws exist to protect renters and to give guidelines for how people and businesses need to conduct themselves. But most people have busy lives and aren’t always experts in the tenant laws that can influence their lives every day.
For instance, renters have rights, and those rights can vary depending on what state you’re renting in. Additionally, there are federal renters’ rights in place that are in effect everywhere across the country. If you found yourself in a rental dispute with a landlord or tenant, would you know your rights?
What you need to know about tenant laws in Utah
- Landlords can’t discriminate against renters for reasons such as race, religion, or gender identity. For a landlord to deny a tenant, there must be legitimate reason like unemployment, past evictions, or other past actions that a landlord feels is likely to put their income or property at risk. Tenants also have a right to privacy. This means that owners can’t enter a property they’re renting out without proper notice, unless it is in the event an emergency.
- Renters are entitled to live in habitable conditions, meaning they are safe and appropriate for people to live in. Included under “safe and habitable conditions” are working heating and cooling units and access to clean, hot and cold water. Landlords also can’t neglect to make repairs or resolve maintenance issues that may create a hazard. Landlords have a duty of care towards tenants by being legally obligated to provide safety features in their units, such as fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, front door peepholes, and locks on doors and windows.
- Landlords are legally prohibited by tenant laws from retaliating against their tenants for requesting repairs or bringing up compliance violations. This means they aren’t allowed to raise rent or threaten eviction because a complaint has been made.
- Legally, landlords can keep a tenant’s security deposit to cover damages or neglect to a rental unit beyond normal wear and tear after a tenant leaves, but any funds they keep must be used to repair the property and they must provide an itemized list to the tenant. They also have 30 days to return any unused portion of the security deposit.
- While renters are expected to make their lease payments on time, landlords are required to give three days notice before filing an eviction notice in cases of unpaid rent.
- A landlord has a legal obligation to put a lease agreement in writing so that renters have clear access to its terms and conditions.
- The Fair Housing Act is a federal anti-discrimination law that protects people from discrimination due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. It even extends to advertising about rental properties, so that landlords and rental management companies can’t market to specific groups of people.
- The Fair Credit Report Act prescribes how landlords can use their potential tenants’ credit information. Most landlords will need some form of a credit report to be able to offer a lease – it helps landlords assess risk and understand the financial position of applicants. But permission must be given from an applicant for a credit report to be run and the applicant has a legal right to be notified if that credit report was the reason for denying them a lease.
It’s important as a tenant that you not sign a lease without fully understanding what the document entails. If you have any questions about your rights as a tenant, or believe your landlord is in violation of any leasing or tenant laws, give us a call.
We can assist you in making sure that your rights as a renter are protected.