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Fair Housing

You Are Protected from Housing Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act protects you from discrimination when you are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. You may not be denied housing because of your race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status (families with children), and/or disability. These are protected classes. If any of the following has happened to you, you may have been illegally denied your right to Fair Housing because of your class membership:

  • You are told a house or apartment is not available when it really is.
  • You are denied the right to rent or buy a house or apartment because you have children, or you are told your family is too large.
  • A landlord refuses to rent to you because you are physically disabled or refuses to make reasonable changes in the lease to enable you to use and enjoy your home comfortably, such as install a wheelchair ramp or widen doorways.
  • Because of your skin color, a bank or other lending institution refuses to lend you money to buy real estate, or the institution changes the requirements for lending you money.
Anyone who has control over residential property must follow the law. This includes rental managers, property owners, real estate agents, landlords, banks, developers, builders, and individual homeowners who are selling or renting their property.

What is Prohibited?

  • False denial of availability: advising someone because of their class membership that there are no available units when, in fact, there are;
  • Refusal to deal: refusing to rent, sell – or even negotiate – with a person because of class membership;
  • Discriminatory terms and conditions and provision of services or facilities: giving less favorite terms in sales or rental agreements because of class membership;
  • Discriminatory advertising: indicating any preference, limitation or discrimination because of class membership;
  • Financial discrimination: denying any type of home loan for discriminatory reasons by lenders, including banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, and others, or giving less favorite loan terms because of class membership;
  • Refusal to permit a reasonable modification to the unit at the expense of the person with a disability, in order that the person may not have full enjoyment of the unit;
  • Denial of a reasonable accommodation to the rules and regulations of rental in order that the person with a disability may have equal opportunity to use and fully enjoy their unit.

Disability Rights

People with disabilities have the right to use and enjoy their homes comfortably. The Fair Housing Act and the North Carolina Fair Housing Act both prohibit discrimination against individuals who are disabled or who are associated with people with disabilities. If you or someone associated with you has a physical or mental disability, your landlord may not:

  • Refuse your request to make reasonable modifications to your home, at your expense, that allow you to fully utilize and enjoy your home. Examples of reasonable modifications include:
    • Installing a wheelchair ramp;
    • Installing grab bars in the bathroom;
    • Widening doorways.
  • Refuse your request to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services that allow you to live in a property on an equal basis with people without disabilities. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
    • Allowing a service or therapy animal, despite a no-pet policy;
    • Allowing a tenant to have a live-in aide who is not on the lease to assist with daily care.

Have You Experienced Housing Discrimination?

If you believe you may have experienced housing discrimination, there are resources available to you. The North Carolina Human Relations Commission investigates fair housing complaints in the State, and Legal Aid of NC offers confidential assistance to victims of housing discrimination.

North Carolina Human Relations Commission
N.C. Department of Administration

Write to:
1318 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1318

Visit in person:
116 W. Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 807-4420, or (866) 324-7474

Report discrimination online at www.doa.nc.gov/hrc/fairhousing.aspx.


Legal Aid of North Carolina
Fair Housing Project

Write to:
P.O. Box 26087
Raleigh, NC 27611

1-855-797-FAIR

www.fairhousingnc.org



Tenants

What to Know Before You Rent

Renting a home is a legal agreement with certain rights and responsibilities defined by law. The information below is designed to provide renters with general guidelines, it is not intended to provide legal advice.

What can I afford?

  • A general rule of thumb used by many property owners and managers is for the tenant’s monthly rent not to exceed 25-35% of his or her monthly income.
  • Consider the cost of utilities–gas, electricity, water and sewage.
  • If you are married and both you and your spouse work, the income of both husband and wife can be counted toward total income.
  • If you live with someone other than a spouse, each person may have to qualify separately.
  • Income may include wages and regular payments such as alimony, child support, social security, etc.
  • Proof of identification and income will be required, so be prepared to provide records showing your total income.
  • Your employment, credit, rental, and criminal record may be checked.

How do I find rental properties?

  • Ask for referrals from friends and co-workers. Drive through different neighbor-hoods and get to know the area (link to map).
  • Note any “For Rent” signs that are of interest.
  • Checking the classified ads is most effective after you have narrowed your search to specific areas.
  • Look in the Salisbury Post for the Real Estate Section on Saturdays.
  • Talk to real estate agencies.
  • Check in books that are usually available for free.
  • Visit apartment rental offices.
  • Search the Internet for local property managers.

How do I qualify?

  • There is no single standard used to qualify for renting. Procedures used to qualify applicants and lease property may differ.
  • Be sure to find out the specific standards and procedures followed by the owner or manager from whom you seek to rent.
  • Always remember to check with your landlord!

Inspection Checklist

  • Refrigerator
  • Stove/Oven
  • Microwave
  • Washer/Dryer Connections
  • Toilets
  • Faucets
  • Showers
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors
  • Heating (Gas or Electric?)
  • Air Conditioning
  • Fireplace/Chimney flue
  • Doors and windows open and close
  • Working locks on all doors and windows
  • Look for broken glass in the windows
  • Look for leaks or signs of water damage
  • Look for signs of pests
  • Look for other damage to the walls, ceiling, rugs, floor (and furniture, if the apartment is furnished)

What else should I ask a prospective landlord?

  • Are appliances included?
  • Who takes care of the yard?
  • Who pays for water/trash/sewage?
  • What if something breaks?
  • Can I paint the walls or put up wallpaper?
  • What kind of parking is available?

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
What information do I need to give to a landlord to be able to rent?
Answer:
You must provide three things: proof of income, a government ID and your previous landlord information. Proof of income means a payment stub. Government ID means a driver’s license or ID card.
Question:
What do I need to consider when searching for a home?
Answer:
You should consider the location, including access to public transportation, what is the area’s school district, are there nearby parks or shopping areas? Also consider if there is a neighborhood association and the levels of traffic in the area.
Question:
What about special needs?
Answer:
You should check if the home allows for pets, children, wheelchairs and/or handicap access.

Download Brochure: What to Know Before You Rent

Tenants' Rights

As the tenant, you are entitled to certain rights and are also responsible for your rent. But please note that if repair work is needed, you must allow the owner to enter the property in order to have items fixed. The landlord should give notice prior to entering the property.

What if something breaks?

  • Emergency items include:
    • Gas leaks
    • Major water leaks
    • Electrical issues
    • Doors and windows that won’t lock
  • If not an emergency, notify landlord as soon as possible by phone and in writing.
    • If landlord does not respond, contact Salisbury’s Code Enforcement Division.
  • You must still pay your rent in order to avoid eviction.
    • The law does not allow a tenant to withhold rent payment while waiting for repairs to be made.
  • Talk to your landlord first if you foresee yourself not being able to make the monthly rent payment.
    • Be aware of additional costs. There may be a late fee. The fee cannot be more than 5% of your rent or the rent amount divided by 20.

What is the eviction process?

  • If you are delinquent in your rent payments or have damaged the property in some way, you may be at risk of being evicted.
  • The first step of the eviction process allows the landlord to give notice to the tenant to vacate the property.
    • If you choose not to vacate, the landlord must then file for Summary Ejectment (eviction) at the Rowan County Court House.
    • The tenant will then be summoned to Small Claims Court.
    • If the ruling of the judge or magistrate is in the landlord’s favor, the tenant will have ten days to appeal the decision.
    • After that, the landlord will obtain a Writ of Possession. This allows a sheriff’s deputy to come to the home after seven days to remove the tenant from the property.

Who is a tenant? Who is a landlord?

  • A tenant is someone who occupies a rental space and agrees to pay rent for a living space.
  • A landlord is a person who owns and rents a living space to a tenant OR is someone who manages the property for the owner.
  • These two people form a business relationship.

A sample letter to a landlord ...

Dear [Landlord’s Name(s)],


As tenant of the property located at [property address], I request that the following repairs be made to the property:

  • [Repair item #1]
  • [Repair item #2]
  • [Etc.]

  • Please bring the above mentioned items into compliance with the minimum housing standards of the City of Salisbury, North Carolina.


    I further request that you reply, in writing, to this letter within seven days of receiving it in the mail.


    Thank you for your assistance in this (these) matters. Please contact the City of Salisbury Code Enforcement Division at (704) 216-7559 for questions related to the minimum standards.


    Sincerely, [The Tenant’s Name]

What should I expect as a tenant?

  • A safe living environment with:
    • Smoke detectors (required by law)
    • Properly working systems (electrical, plumbing, gas.)
    • Carbon monoxide detectors (required by law if natural gas is used.)
    • No mold or mildew.
    • No pests (roaches, mice, termites, etc.)
  • Routine maintenance (unless specified otherwise in the lease)
    • Yard upkeep
    • A clean living space
    • Trash removed promptly and regularly
  • Good communication with the landlord
    • Get an emergency repair plan from the landlord.
    • Contact the landlord when your contact information changes.
    • You need the landlord’s mailing address.

Download Brochure: Tenants' Rights

Being a Good Tenant

Best practices for being a good tenant include treating the property as your own. Also, pay your rent first. Pay other bills later.

Good maintenance practices:

  • If something breaks, contact your landlord as soon as possible.
  • Give special attention to reporting water leaks.
  • Know the schedule for trash, recycling and yard debris.
  • Do not leave open food containers around the home which would attract pests or rodents.
  • Do not park on your front lawn.
  • Keep grass cut and bushes trimmed.
  • Do not store indoor furniture and appliances outside the home.
  • Keep sidewalks clear.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries and air filters as needed.
  • Trash cans not in front yard.

Rental insurance:

It is a good idea to have rental insurance. This will cover personal items that are lost or damaged in a fire or other event.

Community involvement:

  • Get involved with your Neighborhood Watch program.
  • Know your neighbors.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors.
  • Report any crime or suspicious activity promptly.

Having pets:

  • Have permission from landlord to have pets.
  • Clean up animal waste.
  • Treat your pets for fleas.
  • Manage your pet’s noise.
  • Do not let your pet run loose.

Characteristics of a good tenant:

  • Communicate well with your landlord.
  • Pay rent on time.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors.
  • Keep up your property.
  • Follow City ordinances that promote quality of life.
  • Consider safety a top priority.

Download Brochure: Being a Good Tenant   

Landlords

The Role of a Landlord

Renting out a home is a legal agreement with certain rights and responsibilities defined by law. The information below is designed to provide landlords with general guidelines, it is not intended to provide legal advice. The relationship between a tenant and landlord should be one of good communication.

What makes a good landlord?

  • Provides a safe and clean place for renters.
  • Establishes good communication with the tenant.
  • Knows the minimum standards of living that are part of the City’s ordinances.
  • Keeps a healthy balance of regular property inspections and respects the privacy of tenant(s).
  • Reports any illegal activity to the police.
  • The landlord should give notice prior to entering the property in order to respect the privacy of the tenant(s).

Maintaining your property:

In order to ensure that your property does not fall below the minimum standards of living and also doesn’t become a money pit for repairs, it is important to do regular inspections of your property. This should be done, however, while respecting the privacy of the tenant(s).

You should give the tenant enough time prior to doing an inspection to allow them the opportunity to be present. The inspections should be at reasonable times of the day and week.

Money issues:

  • Always give receipts to your tenants and keep a record for yourself.
  • Have a reserve fund in place for emergency repairs or other unexpected occurrences.
  • Keep tenant’s deposit in a separate account.

Things to do in between tenants:

  • Check property for items that need to be repaired.
  • Ask yourself, “Does this property meet the minimum standards of living as established by the city’s ordinances?”
  • Inspect property for pest issues and consider extermination before moving a new renter into the dwelling.
  • Check all mechanical and electrical equipment to make sure it is in good working condition.
  • Call the utility companies to make sure there are no unpaid bills that may cause issues for a new tenant to have them put in their name.

Landlord safety tips:

  • Do not carry a lot of cash with you.
  • Do not go to the property by yourself.
  • Meet with prospective tenants in a mutual location such as your office.
  • Screen prospective tenants using background checks and credit checks.
  • Get references from past landlords for prospective tenants.

Download Brochure: The Role of a Landlord

Rental Property Registration

Housing and Urban Development


The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a government agency that oversees home mortgage lending practices and is committed to creating equality in housing by enforcing the Fair Housing Act.


Learn More

Salisbury CDC


The Salisbury Community Development Commission (CDC) empowers individuals and families to become self-sufficient through partnerships with other organizations that share common goals and to develop quality, affordable housing in Salisbury.


Learn More

Salisbury Housing Authority


Housing Authority of the City of Salisbury is a Section 8 and Public Housing public housing agency in Salisbury, North Carolina.


(704) 636-1410

What grants are available?

The City of Salisbury has several grants available to help make Salisbury a better place to live and work.

Grants are a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid.


More About Grant Applications

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