Most people will live in a rental property at some point in their lives. It doesn't matter if you rent a studio apartment or a mansion; you are likely to have privacy concerns both during the rental process and later as a tenant. Renters often contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) with questions about their privacy rights. Now, renters can consult the PRC's new Fact Sheet 38: A Renter's Guide to Privacy: What to Know Before You Sign the Lease, While You Rent, and When You Move Out.
The new consumer guide covers important privacy rights at every stage of the rental process. The PRC's top 5 tips for renters are:
1. Order your credit report before you apply for a rental. A prospective landlord will almost certainly order your credit report when considering your rental application. Before you apply, order your own report to confirm that the information is accurate and up-to-date.
2. Avoid rental scams by recognizing warning signs. Online resources such as Craigslist.org are a popular way to search for available rentals. Unfortunately, scammers also use these sites to place fake listings in an attempt to steal your money or identity. Learn to recognize common warning signs including being asked to pay or provide personal information before you see the property.
3. Carefully review any lease or rental agreement before you sign. Make sure that the agreement confirms any verbal understandings you have with the landlord. Do not hesitate to question anything that you do not understand or that you believe limits your existing rights.
4. Do not ignore notices you receive from your landlord. Small problems can become big problems if you don't address them. For example, if you do not respond to an eviction notice in a certain number of days, the landlord may file a lawsuit to evict you.
5. Know where to complain or seek help if problems arise. Rental privacy is complicated and often depends on various federal, state, and local laws. Learn where you can seek help and file complaints by reading Section 8 of the Fact Sheet.