Talking to the ‘lord

Students need to know their role in preventing landlord manipulation.

Most students at the University choose to live off campus after their first year. Because it often is for the first time, landlords easily can get away with taking advantage of first-time renters. Finding a place to live requires a bit more than just viewing the property and liking the price.

First of all, take steps right away to form a good communication channel with a landlord. This means from the very first viewing. Ask questions so you won’t end up surprised on move-in day. If something isn’t the way you want it, ask if they can fix it. See a smoke detector missing? Tell them it will need to be replaced. Background check the landlord before you sign a lease. You can do this on the city of Minneapolis or St. Paul Web sites. Another way to tell whether problems will arise is by talking to the current tenants. If they aren’t there, ask the landlord how long they have lived there. If it has been more than a year, it is likely that they had an enjoyable experience.

After the next year of life is signed away, it is important that renters know their role as well as the landlord’s role. Tenants are responsible for coming forward to tell the landlord when problems arise within the property. It is the landlord’s responsibility to correct these problems. Remember that even small problems can and should be fixed by a landlord. This means drafty windows, leaky faucets and a light bulb too high to reach that needs changing. However, many students find that their landlords are not receptive to many complaints or when they do respond, it takes a long time.

Students can prevent this stumble of progress. Always report problems in writing. Make copies of the notes sent to the landlord asking for repairs or concerns. If the landlord isn’t responding or answering phone calls, continue to pursue them. With documentation of the effort to communicate with them, their slow or nonexistent response becomes a violation that can be proved legally. If they still are not listening, contact the University legal service to aid in the process.

The more aware students become of the manipulating tactics some landlords use, the better the landlords will be forced to treat renters in the University area.