Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
You should take your role as a tenant seriously. A lease is a legally binding document and not following its terms can lead to unnecessary legal trouble for all parties involved. We have compiled a few tips to help you become a successful renter and enjoy your off-campus living experience.
Pay Rent & Utilities Monthly
Signing a lease legally requires you to pay your landlord rent in full and on time each month. In addition, all utilities must be paid each month to the utility company per your lease agreement.
Unless you and your roommates signed separate leases, you each count as one tenant. This means that even if you have paid your portion of the rent, you are still responsible for the remainder of the rent if your roommate neglects to pay their portion.
Keep Your Unit Well-Kept & Maintained
As a tenant, you are responsible for maintaining your rental unit during the term of your lease. You are also responsible for any damages that you or a guest cause to your rental property. Regular maintenance and cleaning can prevent common issues, such as pest infestations. Additionally, routine maintenance and cleaning also makes it easier for you to spot a problem, should one arise.
Notify Your Landlord of Problems Right Away
Let your landlord know of any appliance malfunctions, reoccurring pest problems, or general maintenance issues as soon as you and your housemates discover them. The sooner you let your landlord know of a problem, the sooner the problem can be resolved.
Review your lease carefully to determine what problems you and your landlord are required to fix. Sometimes a tenant is responsible for basic repairs under a certain dollar amount. This is typically the case when a maintenance or cleaning issue arises and costs $100 or less to fix.
Communicate Effectively & Responsibly
The key to a positive off-campus living experience is effective communication between you and your landlord. Be very clear about your expectations of them and be sure you understand what they expect of you. You should also document all communication between you and your landlord in writing, especially when it concerns repairs.
Understand Occupancy Limits for Your Living Space
The City of Pittsburgh code states that no more than three unrelated individuals are permitted to reside together in one rental housing unit, regardless of the number of rooms within the unit.
Read Your Lease Carefully
It is important that you thoroughly read your lease before you sign it. Some leases contain an automatic renewal clause or other important details that should not be ignored.
Purchase Renter’s Insurance
Your landlord is not responsible if any of your personal property is lost, stolen, or damaged in a flood, fire, or other natural disaster. To protect yourself and your property, we recommend you purchase renter’s insurance.
Providing Your Landlord with Access to Your Apartment
As a tenant, you must provide your landlord with access to your property for the purpose of inspection or repairs, so long as you have received sufficient notice from your landlord. Sufficient notice is typically defined within your lease, however, it is customary to receive notice of your landlord’s arrival at least 24-hours in advance.
Like tenants, landlords play an important role in making the rental experience positive. We have generated a list of what you should expect from your landlord to help you determine whether signing a lease with your prospective landlord is the right choice for you.
Keep Units in a Safe, Sanitary, and Livable Condition
Landlords are required to provide their tenants with a safe, sanitary, and well-maintained accommodation that follows all local and state laws and ordinances. Some units are required to have a warranty of habitability, which guarantees essential services such as heat, light, electricity, and both hot and cold running water, except where tenant’s failure to pay utilities causes a loss of service.
Respond Quickly to Maintenance Issues
Landlords must respond within a reasonable timeframe to any problems once they are notified. However, the definition of a reasonable timeframe depends on the circumstances in each case.
Landlords have a responsibility to provide accurate information to their tenants. This can be achieved by having a written lease that includes specific provisions for rental term, repair policies, and other restrictions. Landlords should also inform tenants of anything that could affect their rental, such as remodeling, sale of the unit, etc. Lastly, landlords should always notify tenants at least 24-hours in advance before they enter the rental unit, whether for inspection, repair, or otherwise.