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Buffalo metro area tenants have rights

The rest of the country may only think of the snow, but residents know the Buffalo metropolitan area can be a great place to live.

And maybe the secret is getting out. Places to rent in the region are filling up fast even though more rental units are becoming available all the time. There aren’t many vacancies, and landlords know it.

Renters often don’t know their legal rights, especially if they’re first-time renters or newcomers to the state or the country.

Be aware that a body of law as long and deep as Lake Erie applies to your tenant relationship with your landlord.

Discrimination isn't okay

You may find yourself seriously frustrated by any number of things a landlord might do or refuse to do. Maybe you don’t immediately know why. Or maybe you do.

Whatever the cause of your concern, remember it’s illegal for landlords to discriminate due to national origin, religion, sexual orientation, sex, race, age, disability, family status, military status, and more.

With certain special exceptions, you also can’t be discriminated against because you have children.

Finally, it’s illegal to retaliate against you for trying to exercise your legal rights as a tenant.

Nice digs

Just surviving in your living situation shouldn’t compromise your life, health, or safety.

You will be happy to know that the unit provided by your landlord must be fit for human habitation, and they should keep it that way.

Your landlord must also stay out of your rental property except with “reasonable” prior notice.

Even then, entry must be for reasons specified by the law, such as showing your unit to potential new occupants, making needed or consented-to repairs, or for emergencies.

Your security deposit is yours

Your security deposit isn’t a landlord bonus. It’s refundable.

When your lease is up and you move out, it must be returned in full in a reasonable time. In certain cases, even the interest earned on the deposit must go to you.

Although a “cleaning fee” is probably not legal, there certain other things your landlord can do with your deposit.

If you still owe rent or if the rental property has been damaged beyond normally expected daily wear and tear, the landlord can make appropriate deductions from your deposit.

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