Do Tenants Have Rights?

“I’ve got my rights,” actors say in the movies all the time as the police arrest them. But have you ever stopped to think: what rights do I have? We’ve all heard of the Miranda rights that are read to people as they are being arrested. “You have the right to remain silent (don’t you wish your neighbor would exercise that one!) . . .” The Miranda rights are what are known as criminal rights. But when it comes to tenants’ rights, then we are dealing with what are known as civil rights. Civil rights, essentially, are rights that you have as a member of our society that are separate and distinct from your criminal rights. But what civil rights do tenants have? In the fair housing context, tenants have the civil right to live in a place that is free of discrimination because of race, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, etc. So the next time that you hear of a civil rights lawsuit, realize that it may be something as simple as a landlord refusing to rent an upstairs apartment to a family with children. Or in this day and age, it may be a manager refusing to rent to a Muslim couple.  If you feel like your landlord or the management company has violated your civil rights, then do something about it.