You have rights as a tenant, and while the specifics may vary depending on your state's landlord-tenant laws and the unique lease agreement you signed, there are basic entitlements you should know about.

1. Your home should be weatherproofed to keep the chill out. The wind should not whistle through the windows and walls.

2. Regardless of whether you have electric or gas heat, your system should be functional at all times.

3. Basic health and sanitation standards require that the landlord perform preventative maintenance on rental units, including regular visits from an exterminator to prevent bugs and rodents from taking up shelter from the cold.

4. Many cities have safety codes that require sidewalks to be salted and shoveled within a certain amount of time after snowfall. Check your lease to find out who is responsible for what. In some multi-unit properties, the landlord takes care of the parking lot and shared walkways, and tenants are responsible for the areas directly in front of their units.

5. If you're hit with an emergency such as flooding, gas leak, sparking electrical appliances or loss of heat in winter, landlords are often required to resolve the situation within 24 hours. Don't forget, make maintenance requests in writing so you'll have a record of your communications.

Ready to be your own landlord? An experienced real estate agent can help you on your journey. Find one here.