The landlord's most basic right, as detailed in the lease or rental agreement, is to collect rent. Depending on the nature of the rental, rent may be due once a month, twice a month or every week. The landlord and tenant will agree on how and when the rent is paid. Some landlords only take checks or money orders and others use bank deposits or even online payment systems. If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, it's within the landlord's rights to take action that could eventually lead to eviction.
In most U.S. states, and with most types of properties, it's within the landlord's rights to increase rent after the term of the lease expires. If a tenant signs a six-month lease, then the rent is fixed for the term of the lease. But when the lease expires, the landlord can raise the rent. Some older buildings in certain large American cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco are rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, meaning that it's illegal for a landlord to charge more than a set amount for the property. The purpose is to ensure the availability of affordable housing in major city centers.
The landlord also has a right to enter the rental property, but only under specific conditions outlined in the rental agreement. For example, if a landlord wants to enter the rental unit to make general repairs, he usually has to give at least 24 hours' notice. In the case of an emergency like a flood, fire or major damage from a storm, the landlord has the right to enter the property without giving any advance notice. It's also within the landlord's rights to enter the rental unit to demand rent from a tenant whose payment is overdue and who is not responding to written notices.
As part of the tenant screening process, the landlord has to adhere to strict anti-discrimination laws. These apply only to people -- he does have the right to refuse to allow pets on the premises. He can even stipulate which breed or type animal is or isn't allowed to be kept on the property.
If a tenant doesn't keep up with his end of the lease or rental agreement, it's the landlord's right to initiate eviction proceedings. We'll talk more about how evictions work in the next section.