9 Things Your Landlord is Not Allowed to Do

Like tenants, landlords need to follow rules. A landlord cannot evict a tenant for no reason, change your locks, and more.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Though they may own the space, landlords cannot violate your rights as a renter. There are a lot of rules landlords have to follow, including not changing the locks without telling you or using the second closet as a storage space. 
Landlords can be quick to tell us whenever they think we’re not living up to the lease agreement. Many of us have had to endure complaints from our landlords for scratching the floor or having too many guests over. But landlords can break the rules just as often as a tenant. 
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Take a look at these 9 things that landlords cannot do
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1. Enter your home without proper notice

Your landlord cannot enter your apartment without giving you proper notice. This is true no matter where you live, but what constitutes proper notice will vary depending on the state in which you live and the terms of your lease. In general, notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance. Once notice is given, you are required to allow the landlord into the property so they can perform necessary duties.
Some leases will specify what form notice must be given in such as written notice, text message, or email. The only time your landlord is allowed to enter your home without proper notice is if they are responding to a genuine emergency.

2. Raise your rent

The lease you sign with your landlord is a legally binding contract, and they must honor the terms specified in the lease. This means that they cannot simply raise your rent at will. Unless there are specific conditions in the lease for raising rates, your rent is locked in until the lease’s term is up.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you get a new pet, a significant other moves in, or there is dramatic remodeling done to the property, your rent might go up. If you are in a rent-controlled area and the terms of the rent control change, you could see a rent increase.

3. Prohibit service animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that landlords are not allowed to prohibit their tenants from keeping service animals, which are exempt from any “no pets” rules. Whether or not you should buy a car with a rebuilt title depends on the situation. 
If you can show documentation proving your pet is a service animal, your landlord cannot legally keep them out. 
MORE: Best road trips for animal lovers in the US

4. Keep your security deposit unfairly

Often, landlords will keep your security deposit claiming it is because you scratched this wall or that floor. Your landlord is not allowed to use your security deposit to pay for routine maintenance, normal wear-and-tear, or regular cleaning.
The only time your landlord can keep your security deposit is if there are extensive and extraordinary damages—like holes in the wall—to the property or if you break your lease.

5. Refuse to make reasonable repairs

It is a landlord’s legal obligation to maintain a safe and habitable living space for their tenants. This includes making reasonable repairs such as fixing utilities, removing asbestos, lead, mold, pests, or other harmful/dangerous substances.
If your landlord refuses to facilitate reasonable repairs, you can take legal action against them.

6. Use the rental space

This is one many of us may have seen before. It is not uncommon for there to be a closet, garage, or attic space that is “off-limits” because the landlord uses it for storage. Unless the space in question is specifically listed in the lease as not being part of the rental property, your landlord has no right to use it.
Remember, you signed a lease and have a legal right to the space you are renting. The landlord forfeited their right to store things there when the contract was signed.
MORE: Does renters insurance cover mold?

7. Change the locks

This one should go without saying, but your landlord is not allowed to change your locks without telling you. Even if they are trying to evict you, they have to do so through proper legal means.
If a landlord does not follow the correct legal protocol while evicting you, they can end up in some serious legal trouble themselves—including burglary or tresspassing charges.

8. Evict you for no reason

Landlords must give you proper notice and have a valid reason before evicting you. They cannot ask suddenly for you to leave without justification. This includes giving you proper notice (generally 30 days, but some states allow immediate notice) before forcing you out of the space.

9. Discriminate against a tenant

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their race, gender, nationality, disability, family status, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This means they cannot refuse to rent to you, deny that the property is for rent when it is, harass you, or end your lease early because of any of the criteria listed above.

How to save money on renters insurance

Knowing your rights as a renter will protect you from a rule-breaking landlord. Having the right renters insurance will protect your belongings in case of emergency. 
The number one way to save on insurance of any kind is to compare rates from several different providers. Odds are, there is another company offering similar coverage to yours for a lower rate.
Another great way to save on renters insurance is by
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There are many things a landlord cannot do. Generally speaking, they cannot violate the terms of your lease, violate your rights as a renter, or do anything which is forbidden by Landlord-Tenant Law. In particular, watch out for your landlord trying to raise your rent or enter your home without proper notice. Scroll up for a more complete list of what your landlord cannot do.
If your landlord breaks one or more of these rules, there are a few things you can do. To start, you might consider talking to your landlord about it. They might simply be unaware they are breaking the rules.
Always make sure to get documentation of any communications between you and your landlord. It might be vital later if you need to take legal action. Text messages and emails are usually the best way to communicate with your landlord. Also, take pictures of anything relevant to the situation.
If they still refuse to alter their behavior, you can file a claim with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. After that, you can escalate things further by reporting them to the health department.
If your landlord changes the locks without telling you, call the police right away. It is highly illegal for them to refuse access to your place, even if they are trying to evict you.
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