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Housing Legal Information  

21 TIPS FOR TENANTS

By following these 21 simple steps, you may be able to avoid legal problems later.
  1. In shopping for a place to live: Go to the Greene County Health District (937) 374-5600; or the Montgomery County Health District (937) 225-4395 and review their file on the address you are considering. Check with the utility company to determine previous winters' heating. Talk with current/prior tenants of the landlord you are considering.
  2. Read your lease. Any provision of your lease that conflicts with the landlord-tenant law is not enforceable.

  3. Do not agree to an oral modification of a written lease. Write all modifications down and sign with the landlord.

  4. Avoid "shared utilities systems" (several apartments and one electric/water, etc. bill).

  5. Do not pay rent in cash. Get receipts.

  6. To increase chances of getting your security deposit back, photograph/videotape/document the condition of the apartment when you move in and when you move out.

  7. Contact your landlord IN WRITING at the first sign of condition problems in your apartment. (Check out our Tenant Letters section.)

  8. Make a copy of everything you send the landlord. Keep everything you receive from the landlord.

  9. Do not argue with your landlord or write in haste or anger.

  10. Be a good neighbor. Respect yourself and others.

  11. Do not accept legal advice from your landlord.

  12. Meet all your legal obligations: keep your apartment safe and sanitary; get rid of garbage in a clean, safe, and sanitary manner; use appliances properly; prevent others from damaging your place; do not disturb your neighbors; do not unreasonably withhold consent for your landlord to enter your place.

  13. Recycle, reduce, and reuse.

  14. When you move out, leave a written forwarding address for your ex-landlord. Download a copy of our "fill-in the blank" Notice of Forwarding Address Letter (DOC).

  15. If your landlord fails to repair a problem that materially affects your health and safety, you may be able to escrow your next rent with the court, instead of paying it to your landlord. You must be current in your rent payment and you must have given written notice about the problem to your landlord.

  16. Seek help at the first sign of a problem.

  17. Register and vote in local elections. Your local elected officials have the most direct effect over the enactment and enforcement of housing law in your community.

  18. Try not to rent from your employer or work for your landlord.

  19. Landlords must give reasonable notice, presumed to be 24 hours, to the tenant before entering the apartment. This notice does not apply in emergencies.

  20. If problems arise between housemates or your landlord, consider mediation as a way to resolve the conflict.

  21. Know where the fire extinguishers are and make sure they are in working condition. Check smoke detectors monthly.

Avoiding Roomate Conflicts

Conflict is inevitable. Deal with it in healthy ways. Consider mediation to resolve disputes. Make out an alternating weekly chore list. Live with people you know well and trust. Respect others possessions. Disrespect of one another is the fastest way to an argument.

House Safety

Know where the fire extinguishers are and make sure they are in working condition. Make sure their charge has not expired. Check smoke detectors monthly. If you use natural gas, your house should have a carbon monoxide detector. Lock doors at night. When leaving for long weekends and breaks, secure all valuables. Purchase renter's insurance to protect your belongings.

Housing Inspections

If a polite call or letter to your landlord does not remedy a housing complaint, a confidential inspection by the Greene County Health District [(937) 374-5600] or Montgomery County Health District [(937) 225-4395] may be the answer. Make sure you ask the health inspector to provide you with a copy of the notice he/she sends to the landlord if he/she finds any violations.

Renters's Insurance

  • It is not your landlord's responsibility to cover the cost of your belongings or to pay for items that are damaged or stolen by others. If you want to be sure you are covered, you should purchase renter's insurance.

  • First, check with your parent's Insurance Agent, many homeowner insurance policies provide coverage to children temporarily living away from home. If you are not covered, then call several agents to get quotes on coverage.

  • There are many types of renter's insurance; make sure you get the amount of protection you think you'll need. Some policies will protect from fire, theft, AND flood, while others will limit your payments to certain types of losses. Make sure you know what type of protection you are getting.

  • Some more expensive policies will pay to replace your belongings, while others will give you the cash value of an item at the time it was destroyed. For example, replacement insurance will pay for a new television, while fair market insurance will give you the value of the television at the time it was destroyed.

  • Certain types of renter's insurance also pay for the cost of personal injury on the rental property.

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Last updated: Fri. Nov-17-06, 15:13
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