Renters Law and Legal Definition

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents of legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability). HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity administers federal laws and establishes national policies that ensure all Americans have equal access to the housing of their choice.

Tenants have a legal obligation to keep the premises in a clean and sanitary condition and pay the agreed upon rent. Failure to do so may result in eviction or forfeiture of security deposit funds. The law imposes certain duties on a landlord to maintain the premises in habitable condition. Failure to do so, such as providing adequate weatherproofing, available heat, water and electricity, and clean, sanitary and structurally safe premises, may be legal justification for a tenant's defensive acts, such as moving out (even in the middle of a lease), paying less rent, withholding the entire rent until the problem is fixed, making necessary repairs (or hiring someone to make them and deducting the cost from next month's rent) The landlord for a partial may be sued for a refund of past rent, and in some circumstances can be sued for the discomfort, annoyance and emotional distress caused by the substandard conditions. States typically require landlords to provide a specific amount of notice (usually 24 or 48 hours) before entering a rental unit. In some states, landlords must provide a "reasonable" amount of notice, legally presumed to be 24 hours.

Evicton is the process by which a landlord removes a tenant from physical possession of the rented property. The legal action brought to obtain an eviction is called an unlawful detainer. Most frequently eviction consists of ousting a tenant who has breached the terms of a lease or rental agreement by not paying rent or a tenant who has stayed (held over) after the term of the lease has expired or only had a month-to-month tenancy. The law of most states requires notice of eviction to be made within a certain time period.