Legal Topics


Homeowners and Renters' Rights

Personal and civil rights are not the only thing that citizens are entitled to under the rule of law. Most societies and governments also have established property rights, which in this day and age refers to the rights enjoyed by homeowners and tenants on a rented or leased property.

The body of law that governs home ownership and renting is known as property law. As a legal tradition, it dates back to the medieval era, though the right to property was more codified during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These laws usually define claims to the legal possession of land, acceptable practices for transfer of property (such as sales and gifts), and contracts and leases between property owners and tenants.

Homeowners' Rights

In many developed nations, homeowners generally enjoy the following rights:

* The right to use their property as they see fit, within the scope of the law

* The right to a redemption period after selling or foreclosing on their home

* The right to modify their home loan or mortgage plan

* The right to defend their property from trespassing or other unwanted intrusions

Renters' Rights

For tenants and renters, the rights they enjoy are slightly different, including:

* The right to housing, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or disability

* The right to a housing unit that meets standard health and housing code requirements

* The right to an arrangement with the landlord for home repairs and maintenance

* The right to proper notice and protection prior to eviction from their property

* The right to pay a reasonable amount for a security deposit

Generally speaking, these rights do have their limits. For example, criminal acts committed on private property are still punishable by law. This can include less violent acts like being a public nuisance from within the safety of your home (e.g., a particularly loud domestic dispute). City zoning ordinances also prohibit setting up commercial operations in a domestic area and vice versa. Finally, communities are allowed to dictate specific measures about home ownership in their jurisdiction, including standards of lawn care and prohibiting the use of specific decorations.

If you want to learn more about your rights as a homeowner or renter, consult with a lawyer through the American Bar Association or through FindLaw.

Image by James Thompson on Flickr

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