Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Learn About Tenant Resources in Your State

Although the federal government sets national housing policy, states regulate housing within their borders. Every state has housing resources to help its citizens with landlord-tenant law or tenants' rights. Renters and prospective tenants should familiarize themselves with their state's housing resources.

This Findlaw article focuses on state resources for tenants and renters.

Housing Assistance

States have an interest in ensuring their citizens have access to safe, clean rental housing. Many states have a few tools to achieve this goal. These tools include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Affordable rental housing programs
  • Rental assistance programs
  • Emergency rental assistance programs
  • Eviction prevention programs
  • Fair housing laws

These programs help prevent homelessness. They help a state's citizens afford appropriate housing.

Affordable Rental Housing Programs

“Affordable housing" refers to a wide range of housing opportunities in a given region. It applies to the following:

  • Subsided public housing
  • Affordable rental housing
  • Affordable homeownership programs

Most affordable housing programs aim to ensure those with low-to-moderate incomes have equal access to quality housing.

Tax Breaks

In some states, luxury rental property developers set aside a percentage of rental units for low and moderate-income families in exchange for tax breaks. Persons meeting financial eligibility criteria can rent these units for below-market rental rates. In New York State, for example, New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development helps create affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers.

Finding State Resources

One way to access this information is to do an internet search for affordable housing in your state. For example, a search for affordable housing in Maryland leads you to the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust website. The Trust aims to increase affordable housing opportunities in the state.

Rental Assistance Programs

Rental assistance programs help low-income families afford clean, safe, and decent housing on the private market.

Both federal and state governments offer rental assistance programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers housing choice vouchers for the following populations:

  • Very low-income families
  • Elderly
  • Disabled

Finding State Resources

One invaluable resource for finding a state's rent assistance program is HUD's local renting website. You can select your state or territory from a list to find local resources. For each state, you can access resources on the following:

  • Rent assistance (help paying your rent)
  • Rental assistance (help finding affordable housing)
  • Utility assistance (help paying your utility bills)

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs

Most states also offer emergency rental assistance programs to help their citizens in housing emergencies. This includes eviction for nonpayment of rent, or public health emergencies, like a pandemic. Consider, for example, the District of Columbia (D.C.). The District has an Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) for eligible District of Columbia residents. Eligible D.C. residents can get the following emergency assistance:

  • Funding for unpaid rent and associated late fees
  • Funding for a security deposit and first month's rent
  • Funding for court costs for those facing an eviction

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states offered rent relief programs or eviction moratoriums to help their citizens stay housed.

Finding State Resources

You can do a simple internet search for "emergency rental programs" and your state for more information.

Eviction Prevention Programs

States have a profound interest in reducing homelessness and ensuring citizens have access to safe, affordable, and clean housing. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, over 500,000 experience homelessness on "any given night." States work to prevent homelessness in several ways, including eviction prevention. In doing so, they help mitigate the risk of persons or families becoming homeless.


Landlords and property owners use eviction to remove tenants from the rental property. They cannot use self-help, such as changing the locks or turning off the tenant's utilities. Common reasons for evictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Willful destruction of rental property
  • Engaging in criminal activity on the property
  • Violating the terms of the rental agreement

Preventing Evictions and Homelessness

In states like Maryland, persons or families facing eviction can get help. This help often includes counseling and case management. Maryland offers grants to service providers to help tenants with the following:

  • Education on their legal rights as a tenant
  • Life skills training, including budgeting
  • Mediation with the landlord or property manager
  • Direct payments to the landlord or property manager

Finding State Resources

For more information on eviction prevention programs, search for these phrases with your state's name.

Fair Housing Laws

Fair housing laws prevent unlawful discrimination in real estate transactions, including renting properties. The federal government uses the federal Fair Housing Act. Individual state laws address fair housing and often offer more protection. Unlawful discrimination in real estate occurs when a real estate professional makes a housing decision based on a protected characteristic.

Protected characteristics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Race
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Familial status

An example of unlawful discrimination based on a protected characteristic is a landlord who refuses to rent to a transgender individual.

Finding State Resources

You can search for "state fair housing laws" and the state name for information on specific state fair housing laws. You can also check out Findlaw's State-Specific Landlord-Tenant Publications.

Get Legal Help

While this information can help you navigate state resources, it's no substitute for legal advice. A qualified landlord-tenant attorney can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Speak to an experienced landlord-tenant attorney today.

Learn About State Resources

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Was this helpful?

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options