The Utah Housing Coalition, an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, recently released, The Renter Toolkit: Keys to Successful Living. The publication is intended to help renters by addressing landlord and tenant responsibilities in the rental relationship. Advocates hope the toolkit will promote clear communication between landlords and renters, demystify policies associated with the contractual agreement between them, and address concerns they have in common.
In the first section of the toolkit, Being a Successful Tenant, UHC encourages renters to evaluate potential rental homes to make sure they fit their needs, including budget constraints, location, pet policies, size, and utilities offered. Renters are also advised to thoroughly inspect the rental home and property for water damage, mold, pests, plumbing issues, and other concerns before signing any rental agreement or paying for security deposits. Typical leasing options and policies are also covered, in addition to a description of common tenant responsibilities included in lease agreements. This basic information will help renters effectively navigate the rental process and avoid potential conflicts before signing the rental agreement.
The booklet also covers tenant rights covered under federal and state housing laws. In addition to protections against housing discrimination based on race, national origin, color, sex, family status, religion, and disability, all included in the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Utah Fair Housing Act guards against source of income discrimination, meaning that families receiving subsidies such as welfare, food stamps or housing vouchers cannot be denied housing solely based on the fact that they receive such assistance. Several municipalities in Utah have gone further than the state law to also protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered residents from housing discrimination. UHC provides examples of cases from other states that have been investigated for housing discrimination, and gives instructions for filing a fair housing compliant.
Information concerning legal grounds for eviction, how to avoid it, and renters’ rights in the eviction process is included.
UHC is using the publication in renter success classes is leading throughout the state. The first class in the series was held on February 7 at an overflow shelter in Midvale, Utah.
“It is amazing what people do not know about being a renter,” said Tara Rollins, executive director of UHC and NLIHC board member. “We are hopeful that the Renter Toolkit will be a useful resource for both renters and landlords.”