Your tenant and debt collection rights
See if your state or local government is stopping evictions
The CDC moratorium has ended. Some state and local governments have limited evictions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
You may qualify for free legal aid
Many landlords are represented by a lawyer in court. You can get legal help too, and you may qualify for free legal aid.
Your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
When you owe money to your landlord or utility company and someone else is trying to collect the money, that person could be a debt collector. Maybe a lawyer or law firm is representing your landlord, or maybe a collection agency is trying to collect the back rent you owe. If so, the lawyer, law firm, or company may be a debt collector under federal law.
Federal law says that debt collectors can’t use unfair or deceptive practices to try and collect a debt. This means if a debt collector harasses you or makes false or misleading statements to collect rental debt, they may be breaking federal law.
Notice about eviction protections
A debt collector trying to evict you for unpaid rent may have been required to give you a notice about the CDC’s eviction moratorium while it applied. The CDC moratorium is no longer in effect.
If you didn’t get this notice, talk with a lawyer. Find a lawyer through your local bar association or legal aid office.
Report a bad landlord
Your rights as a tenant are usually spelled out in your rental agreement and state or local laws. Visit LegalFAQ.org to learn about tenant rights in your state.
Your landlord cannot:
- Force you out by changing your locks without a court order
- Demand fees, interest, or other charges that you did not agree to
- Refuse to make necessary repairs
- Fail to pay for utilities under their control or
- Endanger the health and safety of tenants
Stay in your home as a survivor of domestic violence
Federal law may protect you from being evicted, losing your housing subsidy, or having your application for housing denied because of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against you. However, federal laws don't stop landlords from evicting abusers for committing domestic violence against you, even during the pandemic.
Report housing discrimination
Landlords generally cannot:
- Sexually harass you
- Refuse to rent to you
- Evict you, or
- Change or set different rules for your rental agreement
because of your race, color, national origin (country of origin or ancestry), religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status (pregnancy and families with children), or disability.
If you or your landlord receive federal financial assistance for housing, you are also protected from housing discrimination based on age.