The rights of renters

Students looking to rent near campus should find a landlord that will respect their rights.

Daily Editorial Board

Rental season has arrived. Every year, students find roommates and sign leases at the beginning of spring semester to ensure they have a place to live. They want a place that is close to campus, fun to have people over at and, ideally, is affordable. The process of signing a lease commits students to a financial obligation that is often as large as a semester of tuition and a contract with a landlord. The character and business approach of a landlord can have a huge impact on a renter’s quality of life.

The University Student Legal Service can inform students of their rights — an opportunity every student should take advantage of — even though certain landlords may still ignore them. While there may eventually be a way to recover a security deposit that was unjustly taken, it will involve quite a bit of effort on a student’s part.

Also, despite the right to adequate notice before a landlord can enter one’s rental unit, there are many rooming houses in Dinkytown where the rental unit defined on the lease is only the bedroom and does not include common areas of the house. In this case, a landlord may enter common areas — which can be especially problematic on Friday and Saturday nights. After dropping in unannounced, landlords have been known to call the police on residents just to collect a $200 fine stipulated in the lease for police responses, even when no action is taken upon arriving.

Remember that in the process of signing a contract, both parties can negotiate. A quality landlord will negotiate in good faith and may allow renters to adjust wordings on terms of the lease to protect themselves from potential abuses. Even if a renter knows the rights they are entitled to, finding a quality landlord often bears a larger impact on the quality of life than the property itself.