What Are the Tenant’s Basic Rights That Cannot Be Restricted?

The tenant has certain rights protected by law. These basic legal rights cannot be interfered with or eliminated, no matter what the rental agreement or lease says.

These rights include all of the following:

  • Limits on the amount of the security deposit that the landlord can charge the tenant

  • Limits on the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit

  • The right to a refund of the security deposit, or a written accounting of how it was used after moving out

  • The right to sue the landlord for violations of the law or the rental agreement or lease

  • The right to repair serious defects in the rental unit and to deduct certain repair costs from the rent, under appropriate circumstances

  • The right to withhold rent under appropriate circumstances (e.g. inhabitability)

  • Rights under the warranty of habitability

  • Protection against retaliatory eviction

For example, say your state requires the security deposit to be no more than two months’ rent. If you charge more than that, even if your tenant agrees by signing the lease, it is still illegal according to State requirements. That section of the lease cannot be upheld in a court of law.