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Questions about Apartment Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act, administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides the legal framework for rental housing developments. Yet, every apartment housing complex will have different rules and regulations to follow.

Listed below are a few questions answered by lawyers on apartment housing related issues.

The rental agreement of the retirement apartment housing that I moved into says you can’t run a business from home. I informed the manager that I do make some calls from home. Would it be considered a violation of the rules?

Even if you have a restriction on running a business at home, it does not restrict you from setting up a home office from where you can make calls or do your work. As long as customers and clients do not visit you at home, what you choose to do within your home can’t be restricted.

If a tenant is on housing assistance and receives disability checks, can the apartment owner ask him to provide a letter that says that a private citizen will pay the rent, in the event the tenant is removed from housing?

This seems like a very unusual request which is also uncalled for. A tenant should only have to ensure the due rent is paid and nothing more than that.

I live in an apartment that is subsidized by HUD. Can the manager of the private housing complex enter my apartment anytime he wants to?

Any tenant renting an apartment has the exclusive right to use and possess his/her apartment. Therefore, a landlord or manager cannot enter whenever he wants, unless there is an absolute emergency. This rule would apply to any rental unit, including one that is subsidized by HUD.

I have been a good tenant and paid my rent on time in all the 13 years I have lived in my apartment. I have now been asked by my landlord to fill out a rental application for a credit check which includes details like my social security number, date of birth, where I work and so on. Is this legal?

You don’t need to respond to this request if you don’t want to but then again, your landlord need not renew your lease if he doesn’t wish to. Legally speaking, it is alright for a landlord to ask a tenant to fill out application forms to run a credit and background check. If he chooses to do this with all the tenants, it would help make the premises safe for everyone including you.

I recently got accepted to rent an apartment in a housing property but was turned down when I got there. They said that they knew I was evicted from another place. That was three years ago and because of that I still don’t have my own place. What can I do?

There is a “public record” of an eviction case against you in court and your credit report is showing that. This will definitely go against you when you are looking for an apartment. You could search for a place where they do not check credit. Your other choice would be to come clean with a prospective landlord and tell him/her that you have a “very old” eviction on record. However, you can prove to him/her that you have the means to pay and you could even pay a little extra security in advance if he/she rents the place to you.

In an apartment complex usually all the buildings will be owned by a single company and all the tenants live and rent an apartment there. As a tenant you need to be aware of your apartment complex rules to avoid disagreements with the management or your landlord later on.
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