Living in Your Home

It’s exciting to finally find an apartment or home! Your ongoing responsibilities as a tenant are going to be easy if you make good behavior a habit, such as always paying your rent on time and keeping your front yard or porch tidy.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Tenant

With rights come responsibilities. No matter where you live, reading your lease and familiarizing yourself with your responsibilities before you sign is one of the most important things you can do to protect your rights as a tenant. Failure on the part of the tenants to be aware of their obligations as spelled out in the written lease does not release them from those obligations. Review your rights and responsibilities as a Washington, DC resident.

Once you sign, get a copy of the lease and make sure that any changes or additions, as agreed upon by you and your landlord, are included in the lease before you sign. If a change made to the lease is agreed to and added later, this should also be signed by you and your landlord.

Know that the only legal reason your landlord can evict you without notice is if you fail to pay rent. However, there are other special circumstances regarding eviction and lease expiration, and the law varies by state.


  • Keep a signed copy of your lease.
  • Abide by the terms of the lease, including timely payment of rent.
  • When you move into your house or apartment, don't delay in documenting any and all damages or maintenance issues that already exist and give the list to your landlord. Take photos and keep records of things that need repair and when the repairs get made.
  • Talk with your landlord about entry into your dwelling by the landlord, workers or contractors the landlord has hired, inspectors and prospective tenants.
  • Know whose responsibility it is to maintain the property around your home.