No matter where you live or what type of property you occupy, there are laws designed to protect your rights and stop your landlord from taking advantage of you. There may indeed be an imbalance of power between landlord and tenant, but the laws governing the rights of renters have been specifically designed to help reduce this disparity.
This kind of law and the impact it can have will vary depending on a number of factors, including the nature and makeup of the local and state government, the lobbying power of property owners and renter rights advocates and more. Even so, you should never assume that you are powerless, or take the word of your landlord as gospel.
If you think your rights are being violated, the best thing you can do is talk to an experienced landlord/tenant attorney. By talking to an expert you can determine exactly what your rights are, and more importantly how you can protect them.
While hiring a landlord/tenant attorney can always be a smart idea, there are some times when this process takes on a newfound sense of urgency. If you suspect that your landlord is actually a slumlord, for instance, contacting an attorney quickly could help you protect your rights to have necessary repairs done, allowing you and your family to live in the property safely and with dignity.
Ensuring the habitability of rental properties is one of the specialties of landlord/tenant attorneys, and one of the most common reasons renters contact such professionals. If you have repeatedly asked your landlord to fix a broken toilet, repair a leaky sink or remove lead paint from your property, hiring an experienced landlord/tenant lawyer may be the only way left for you to assert your rights.
It is also important to contact a landlord/tenant attorney if you are facing eviction, or if you have been withholding your rent payments due to problems with living conditions, safety or other serious deficiencies. When the landlord holds up their end of the bargain, they are entitled to receive the rent that has been agreed upon, but the renter/landlord relationship is very much a two-way street.
In many cases you will be able to work with your landlord to come up with an equitable solution, one that allows them to receive their rent while you receive a safe and comfortable place to live. Many landlord/tenant disputes can be settled fairly, but when that solution is not forthcoming it is time to call an experienced attorney and learn about your rights as a renter.