Three Rs for Renters

Three “R”s For Renters

RENTERS: Three R’s for keeping your home safe!

RIGHTS: You have the right to “safe, sanitary, and habitable housing” — a safe place to live.

  • The owner must keep the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems operating safely and keep the floors, walls, stairs and roof safe.
  • The owner must provide smoke detectors and a furnace or heating system to keep all rooms warm.
  • If your home has these safety problems, write down exactly what needs to be repaired and keep a copy for yourself when you give the list to your landlord.
  • If your landlord does not make repairs, call the City of Greensboro at 336-373-2111 to request an inspection-the inspector can order the landlord to make safety repairs.
  • You cannot be evicted for asking for repairs and you can ask the court to reduce your rent if safety repairs are not made.

RESPONSIBILITIES: You have the responsibility to pay the rent and prevent damage to the home.  These everyday habits can make the difference between a safe place to live and one that has more and more problems:

  • Keep your house or apartment clean.
  • Use the plumbing and equipment carefully.
  • Keep the water, gas and electricity on by paying the bills on time.
  • Keep batteries in your smoke detector.
  • Keep your family and guests from damaging the place.

The lease you signed before you moved in may also describe other things you must do.

  • Keep a copy of your lease to remember what it says.
  • You also have the responsibility to pay the rent — even if the landlord has not made repairs!
  • Keep your receipts for paying your rent!

RESOURCES: You can find resources in the community for keeping your house or apartment safe.

  • The city housing inspectors (336-373-2111) can order your landlord to make safety repairs if he or she does not pay attention to your written request.
  • Attorneys at Legal Aid of North Carolina (336-272-0148) can help you with legal questions about housing if you have very little income.
  • The Greensboro Housing Coalition (336-691-9521) can help you know which way to turn when you have a housing problem and can check your home for safety problems, such as lead paint.

HOW TO: Request that the judge reduce your rent because the house needs repairs.

  • Fill out a request for rent abatement at the small claims court to set up a court hearing.
  • Show the judge pictures, the copy of your request to the landlord for repairs, the city housing inspector’s report, or other ways to show how bad the conditions are in your house or apartment.
  • Tell how long it has been in this shape and what the rent is.
  • The judge may decide to reduce the rent and may make the landlord refund part of your back rent.
  • Talk to the Greensboro Housing Coalition (336-691-9521) or Legal Aid of North Carolina (336-272-0148) about this.

HOW TO: Protect your family from lead poisoning in your home.

Houses built before 1978 often used lead paint, so in older homes paint chips and dust can make children and even adults sick.

  • Landlords MUST give you information about lead paint when you sign a lease.
  • Greensboro Housing Coalition (336-691-9521) can check your home to see if there are indications of lead paint.
  • Guilford County Health Department (336-641-3925) can help you reduce the dangers of lead in your home through special cleaning.
  • You can get your children tested FREE for lead poisoning at the Health Department (336-641-3771) or ask your doctor.
  • If the test shows your child was exposed to lead and your landlord did not give you information about possible lead exposure, call Greensboro Housing Coalition (336-691-9521).

HOW TO: Avoid being evicted.

  • If you have a lease (written or verbal), only the judge can put you out of your house.
  • Your landlord can file papers at the small claims court saying why you should be evicted and you will get a notice of when the hearing will be.
  • The court hearing is your chance to tell the judge your side of the story.
  • While you cannot be evicted for asking for repairs, the judge can put you out for not paying the rent, causing damages, or not going by the lease, so make sure you follow your lease.
  • You will have about 10 days from the notice to a court hearing.
  • If the judge says you must move, you will have about 10 days before padlocking and 10 days after padlocking to move your things—but you must make arrangements with your landlord to get in one time to get your belongings.

HOW TO: Protect yourself from discrimination.

The N.C. Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing because of families with children, race, sex, handicaps, color, religion, or national origin.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against:

HOW TO: Understand your lease.

  • Your lease is a legal agreement between you and your landlord.
  • Your lease says that you have the right to sole possession of the property you rent for the length of time that you agree on.
  • If you are on a year (12 month) lease, you or your landlord must give you 30 days notice to move out.
  • If your lease is month to month even after your lease expires after a year, your landlord can legally give you seven (7) days to vacate the property. That’s not very long!
  • Your landlord and you will agree as to the amount of people allowed to live in the property. If you allow more than your agreement, the landlord can evict you.

HOW TO: Get your security deposit back.

  • Within 30 days after you move out and turn in your key, the landlord must either refund your security deposit back to you or give you an itemized statement of damages and the amounts plus any remainder of your deposit.
  • Make sure you give your landlord a forwarding address.
  • The landlord may keep the deposit to the extent necessary to cover his losses. It is very important that you take good care of the property so that it is in good condition when you move out.
  • If you do not agree with your landlord as to the reasons behind keeping the security deposit, you may sue in small claims court.

HOW TO: Be a good neighbor.

  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors and get their name and number.
  • Look out for each other. You don’t have to be friends, but you may be able to help each other if you get to know each other. Especially if your neighbors are different from you, you will get an opportunity to learn how to understand diverse cultures and ways of living.
  • It is also important to be on the lookout for dangerous activity in your neighborhood. A safe area is a happy area. Report all illegal activity to the police (911).
  • If someone is in need of help, dial 911 to get police, fire, or ambulance help immediately.

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