150 S. Washington Street, Suite 202
Falls Church, VA 22046
Phone   (703) 534-5588
Fax   (703) 534-5585

Tenants' Rights

Every tenant, no matter where they live, has the right to a livable dwelling. The landlord has a duty to provide for the upkeep and maintenance of his or her property, and if this duty is not upheld, the tenant may have a right to legal recourse. In addition, if you've been denied housing or unfairly treated because of unlawful discrimination, we can aggressively argue your case.

If your application to rent an apartment is rejected, you have a right to know why. It is illegal for a landlord to refuse your rental application for discriminatory reasons. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  1. Race
  2. Color
  3. Religion
  4. National origin
  5. Sex
  6. Age
  7. Familial status (including not allowing children, discrimination against pregnant women)
  8. Physical disability
  9. Mental disability (including alcoholism and past drug addiction)

States and many cities have similar housing laws, and yours may prohibit other kinds of discrimination, including:

  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation

A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because of a "no pets" policy if you have a trained helper animal, such as a seeing-eye dog, or a dog that helps you negotiate with a physical or mental disability. If the landlord does refuse, he or she has violated federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tenant Rental Rights

Renting someone else's home does not give that person the right to violate tenant rental rights. While a landlord does have their own rights as well, some landlords go beyond their boundaries and violate tenant rental rights.

Tenant rental rights cover a variety of topics including:

  • Privacy
  • Harassment
  • Sudden utility changes in rent
  • Unfair evictions

A home should be someone's safe haven and no one should feel scared, worried or violated in their home because of their landlord - even if that person technically owns the home. Many landlords take it upon themselves to enter a tenant's home without a justifiable cause (such as a true emergency) or without notice. This is a violation of tenant rental rights and a violation of privacy. In other situations, certain landlords may begin harassing their tenant for no real reason, such as their gender, race, sexual orientation, or other quality that does not affect their ability of being a good tenant. A tenant should not have to put up with any mental abuse from their landlord.

When you are living in someone else's home, it is usually their responsibility to fix certain utilities, unless stated otherwise in the lease. For example, being without a working air conditioning in the hot summer months or being without a working heating system when temperatures drop below freezing is another violation of tenant rental rights.

Another serious problem that tenants experience is raised rent or unfair eviction. If the tenant signed a one year lease at $1000 a month, the tenant is entitled to stay in their home for that amount of time and for that rate. If a landlord wishes to raise the rent or force their tenant to move, they must wait until the lease is up and give proper notice. A landlord cannot evict a tenant unless the tenant did something wrong or failed to pay rent.

Tenant Eviction Rights

Eviction is one of the most painful problems that may arise in Landlord Tenant relationship. When a landlord indicates a notice of eviction, the tenant landlord relationship is considered terminated. A landlord may give a notice of eviction for some different reasons. State laws vary and evictions are according to the state the property is located. In general, the process for eviction is similar in many states and an eviction lawyer may be needed.

Some reasons a landlord may give for eviction include:

  • Noise and disturbing their neighbors
  • Damaging property
  • Violating building
  • Delinquent rent
  • No reason but end of a lease term with vacating
  • Tenant violated the rental agreement

Landlords must have viable cause without discriminating when considering an eviction notice. Remember, a justified cause may still turn into a discriminating lawsuit. An advice of an experienced attorney will be necessary to help with the civil dispute if you are facing an eviction.

In many states, the landlord must serve the tenant a notice to quit before the landlord files a court action of eviction. A hearing will then take place on the complaint in a district court and a judgment will be made. A trial may be requested by the tenant if there is a disagreement about the eviction. In cases where a jury trial takes place, the court may request the tenant to place future rent payments into an escrow account until settlement. An eviction lawyer is essential!

The tenant has choices when not paying rent, one of these is called construction eviction. Basically, this means that the property needs repairs in order to be habitable and the tenant is not paying rent until better living conditions are provided. The court may decide to reduce the rent amount owed or force the landlord to make property repairs.

Landlord cannot just throw the tenant out. The landlord must begin an eviction action in court to have you removed from the premises. The landlord cannot decide the law on his or her own when you don’t pay your rent.

If the landlord locked you out, first, contact the police. In most states, a lockout is a crime and the police will order the landlord to let you back into the property.

Landlords have rights to enter their rental properties. In most states, if the tenant gives permission to enter the apartment then the landlord may enter at that time. Also, they may enter the premise during emergency situations such as a fire or major water main leak. In all other cases, the renter has the right to privacy.