It is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence. Unscrupulous landlords raise the rent disproportionately, and if for any reason families do not pay it on time, they receive an eviction notice. Faced with this situation, vulnerable groups such as Latinos prefer not to fight the case. They simply do not want problems and choose to “self-evict,” giving up their rights as tenants. This has been denounced by housing experts. What can be done?

In the face of a dispute, renters from vulnerable communities (such as Latinos) are unable to miss days of work to fight their case in court and are unable to gain timely access to affordable legal representation. Moreover, there is a palpable fear of facing a legal system that is unknown to many of them. This issue was addressed at the “Local News Impact Summit” organized by the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative (CJC) on May 18.

Knowledge of tenants’ rights and available resources is an essential part of guaranteeing families a safe and dignified living environment.

These are your rights as a tenant

Below is a brief list of fundamental rights and protections that renters have in North Carolina.

1. Habitability: Landlords are legally required to maintain rental properties in a habitable condition, including ensuring basic services are working and providing a safe, hazard-free environment.

2. Privacy: Tenants have the right to enjoy their rented space without undue interference from the landlord. Property owners must provide reasonable notice before entering the home, except in emergencies.

3. Landlords may not discriminate: The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from treating tenants differently because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status.

4. Repairs and Maintenance: Owners must address maintenance issues immediately. If the property owner fails to make necessary repairs after written notice, tenants may have legal options, including court intervention.

5. Security Deposit: Tenants are entitled to the return of their security deposit, along with an itemized list of deductions, within a specified time period after the lease ends.

Where to find help

If you are facing abuse by a landlord or are at risk of eviction, there are resources available to help you assert your rights:

1. North Carolina Justice Center: This non-profit organization offers free legal resources to renters. You can call them at: 919-856-2570. You can also write to: 

2. Legal Aid of North Carolina: This organization offers free advice, legal representation, and resources related to housing issues, including eviction defense. For more information visit the website: 

3. State Department of Justice (NCDOJ): The Attorney General’s Office has information on tenant rights, disputes with landlords, and a process for filing complaints. For more details visit:

4. Fair Housing Project: You can call the Tenants’ Rights Hotline at 1-855-797-3247 for guidance on your rights and for help with landlord-tenant disputes. For information in Spanish visit:

5. Local organizations: Several community organizations, such as Action NC, offer resources and support for tenants. For information in Spanish visit:

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