Tenant Responsibilities

State and local laws vary regarding the specific rights and responsibilities of tenants. However, there are some general responsibilities you assume when entering into a rental relationship. The following should be taken as general guidelines.

Pay your rent

You have to pay your rent on time without the landlord having to remind you.

Sign and keep a copy of the lease

You must be given a copy of the lease (rental agreement) within one month of the date you move in. Even if your landlord does not give you a copy of the lease, you are agreeing to the terms of the lease by occupying the apartment or paying the rent. Whether or not you have a copy, you are bound by the terms of the lease that you signed.

Follow the terms of the lease

You and the landlord must follow the terms of the lease. The only way you can be evicted before your lease is up is if you do not obey the terms of the lease.

Write down what damages there are to the apartment when you move in

You are responsible for documenting and providing your landlord a written list or checklist, listing everything that is wrong with your apartment when you move in. When you move out, if there are damages to the apartment that were not listed during those first five (5) days, you will be held responsible. The landlord has the right to charge you for the damages.

Agree to reasonable entry of your apartment by the landlord

If the landlord has a good reason, you must allow him or her to enter your apartment. Some good reasons are to:

  • Inspect the property,
  • Make repairs or decorate,
  • Make alterations or improvements,
  • Supply necessary or agreed services, or
  • Show the apartment to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors.

The landlord can enter the apartment without your consent in emergency situations. The landlord must not abuse the right of entrance or use it to harass you. The landlord can only enter at reasonable hours of the day, except in an emergency and the landlord must tell you before he plans to enter your apartment.

Keep your apartment in good condition

You must:

  • Obey building and housing codes affecting health and safety.
  • Keep the apartment as clean and safe as the conditions permit.
  • Remove garbage, ashes, and waste in a clean and safe manner into the appropriate containers.
  • Keep all plumbing fixtures in the apartment you use as clean as their condition permits.
  • Notify the landlord of any repairs that need to be done to the apartment as soon as possible. The notice must be in writing and dated.
  • Use all utilities and all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators on the property in a correct manner.
  • Be responsible for your conduct and the conduct of other persons on the property whether known by you or not.
  • Abide by all rules and regulations imposed by the landlord.

You must NOT:

  • Deliberately or carelessly destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any of the property or permit any person to do so whether known by you or not.
  • Remove or tamper with a properly working smoke detector.

Give proper notice before moving

You have to give your landlord a written notice in advance of the time you move out. Your lease should state how much time is enough notice. Usually you must give the landlord written notice that you plan to move at least 30 days before the rent is due. If you have a week-to-week lease then you must give a 10-day notice.

Provide correct information on your rental application

If you give false information on your application, the landlord has the right to end your lease.

Check out this great resource about Renter's Rights below: 

                                                 DC Renters' Rights 101