Renter’s Guide: Ten Tips for Tenants

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to drastically affect us individually and collectively.
Changes in the economy, employment, and government-imposed moratoriums will bring
about a flood of mass evictions.

If you need help staying in your home, MSHDA has created the Evictions Diversion
Program to offer rental payment assistance. Habitat HOPE can help you navigate this
resource. But what happens if you do end up needing to find a new place to live? No matter what
your circumstances are, it’s important to know your rights.

The following information is available through

Tip 1: Have your paperwork in order:

Rental application; written references from landlords, employers, and colleagues; and a
current copy of your credit report. To Get a Copy of Your Credit Report, you can order
your credit report by mail, phone, or online at

Tip 2: Review the lease.

Carefully review all of the conditions of the tenancy before you sign on the dotted line.

Tip 3: Get everything in writing.

To avoid disputes or misunderstandings with your landlord, get everything in writing.
Keep copies of any correspondence and follow up an oral agreement with a letter or
email confirming details.

Tip 4: Protect your privacy rights.

Understand your privacy rights, for example, the amount of notice your landlord must
provide before entering. Landlords cannot enter without reasonable notice unless it is
an emergency. Your lease should state the expectations for this

Tip 5: Demand repairs.

Know your rights to live in a habitable rental unit

Tip 6: Talk to your landlord.

Keep communication open with your landlord. If there’s a problem keep in mind, your
first line of contact is the on-site manager. If an issue cannot be resolved at this level, it
should be directed to the on-site manager’s supervisor. Legal action should be the last
course of action.

Tip 7: Purchase renter’s insurance.

Your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your losses due to theft or damage.
Renters’ insurance also covers you if you’re sued by someone who claims to have been
injured in your rental due to your carelessness.

Tip 8: Protect your security deposit.

To protect yourself and avoid any misunderstandings, make sure your lease or rental
agreement is clear on the use and refund of security deposits, including allowable
deductions. When you move in, do a walk-through with the landlord to record existing
damage to the premises on a move-in statement or checklist.

Tip 9: Protect your safety.

Learn whether your building and neighborhood are safe. It’s ultimately up to you to
decide if you feel comfortable, however, you can check crime reports in your area, drive
around at different times of the day, or ask around to get a feel for the area.

Tip 10: Deal with an eviction properly.

Know when to fight an eviction notice — and when to move.
Habitat HOPE offers no cost rental counseling that can assist you with your housing
goals and with information and resources that will help you successfully find, and keep,
that place to call home.

We can explore these tips and review information that will allow you to have a greater
comfort level as you explore renting and potentially future home ownership.

Contact Jeanette for one-on-one appointment at 734-243-2048

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