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What’s Your Rental Law IQ?

Laws pertaining to rental housing are established to protect both parties of the landlord-tenant relationship. Knowledge of and compliance with federal, state and local regulations is crucial for both landlords and tenants.


Knowing your area’s rental laws is vital to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and legal obligations in any rental situation. This will help you protect yourself, your rental business, and your investment property.


How much have you studied the laws in your area? Test your understanding of rental laws with these common landlord scenarios.


See how savvy your legal knowledge really is by answering these true or false questions. Correct answers will appear below each question.


True or False?


  1. It is my right to refuse to rent to someone who has been arrested for drug use.

    1. False. Arrest records are not a valid reason to deny a rental applicant according to HUD’s Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records.

  2. My tenant moved out, leaving a ratty couch and bags of clothes behind. It looks like trash to me, but I have to store this stuff until the tenant claims it.

    1. True. Although you might be tempted to sell, keep, or throw away items your tenant left behind, there are certain procedures a landlord must follow in order to avoid liability claims or legal proceedings from the tenant. While each state is different, in general, you must itemize and store property for a reasonable amount of time for your tenant to come collect the property.

  3. There is a great park and are good schools near my rental, so it’s a good idea to put “Perfect for Families” in my rental ad.

    1. False. Familial status is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. Mentioning families in your rental ad could insinuate that families will receive special treatment which could violate the Fair Housing Act.

  4. My applicant has a mediocre credit score. So, I’m requiring a cosigner on the lease and must provide an Adverse Action Notice to this tenant.

    1. True. If you reject an applicant, increase the rent or deposit, require a cosigner, or take any other adverse action based partly or completely on information in a consumer report, like a credit score, you must give the applicant or tenant a notice of that fact with an Adverse Action Notice to meet Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act laws.

  5. I have to tell my renter that a previous occupant has died in the rental property.

    1. Depends. There is no federal law regarding deceased tenant disclosures to your renters. Although some states only require landlords to disclose this information if a tenant asks you directly about deaths on the property, others only require a landlord to inform tenants about past deaths that happened in the past three years. Others still have no requirements. Check your state and local laws about deceased tenant disclosures to renters.


Landlord-tenant laws are state driven rules that will protect the owner, the property, and tenants in all rental transactions.


Managers and landlords are required to understand the federal and local laws that pertain to their property but a surprising number of landlords do not fully understand their rights or legal obligations regarding landlord-tenant laws, according to a Zillow survey. If you found that you need to brush up on your rental laws check out these articles regarding the application of the Fair Housing Act and other common landlord-tenant laws.


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