Insurance Advisor at Oliver L.E. Soden Agency, Inc

Do You Know Your Rights as an Apartment Renter?

Renting an apartment is something that many of us do at one point or another. Whether you’re just starting out or are in between life events, leasing an apartment is an affordable and convenient option. Plus, you’re not responsible for repairs or maintenance. If your washer breaks or your faucet leaks, simply call your landlord.


As advantageous and hassle-free as leasing can be, we’ve all heard a horror story or two of renting gone wrong. At the end of the day, you are still relying on your landlord to get things done in a reasonable time frame. Your landlord is also responsible for keeping the building up to safety and health codes.


It’s important to know your rights when you lease an apartment. Having renters insurance is a great first step to protecting your belongings, but you should also be aware of the expectations of your landlord. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has put together renters' rights that we encourage you to read. However, tenant rights do vary by state, so be sure to check out the specifics here in NJ.


Here are a few of the most important tenant rights to be aware of.


  • Your property should be habitable and up to code. “Habitable” means that the residence has running water, electricity and heat. It should also be structurally sound. Any signs of mold, cockroaches or defective smoke detectors should be reported to the landlord immediately. If these issues are not resolved, you may be able to break your lease without penalty.


  • Repairs should be made in a reasonable time frame. Before signing the lease, ask your landlord what their policy is for repairs. Some larger apartment complexes might have guidelines they follow, such as no more than 3 days. Smaller buildings may be up to the discretion of the landlord.


  • Evictions require written notice. You cannot be evicted from your residence without warning. There are several reasons why your landlord can evict you such as if you pay the rent late, violate the lease agreement or cause damage to the property. However, landlords must still follow the rules and regulations of the New Jersey Eviction Law.


  • Security deposits are regulated. In New Jersey, there is a security deposit law that your landlord must follow. This law places a limit on what your landlord can collect (1½ month’s rent), what can be deducted from it (unpaid rent and damage) and when it needs to be paid back (usually 30 days).  


Before signing a lease, do your research and learn about your rights. It could save you a lot frustration and money down the road. Also, don't forget to insure your belongings. Renter's policies are inexpensive and worthwhile to have. For more information on affordable renter's insurance policies, call Hal Soden.