A newly formed landlord group is drafting a uniform lease for all University-area student-renters

Hank Long

Student-renters in neighborhoods near the University will soon have an easier time interpreting their rental leases, a newly formed landlord group said Friday.

In an effort to better its relationship with student-tenants, the University Concerned Landlord Association is developing a uniform lease member landlords will use for new student-tenants.

The University Concerned Landlord Association is an organization of more than 30 landlords who own more than 3,000 units in neighborhoods near the University, association attorney Patrick Burns said.

Association President Jason Klohs, who owns nine properties near the University, said the group of property owners hopes to agree on a uniform lease in two to three months that is fair and easy for students to understand.

“Right now, a student can go to 10 different properties and see 10 different leases,” Klohs said.

He said the organization wants the lease to be easy to understand and work for both students and landlords.

Minnesota Student Association Housing and Facilities Chairman Tom Zearley said he likes the idea of a uniform lease but would like to meet with landlord groups to give student input on its possibilities.

Bill Dane, an attorney for the University Student Legal Service, said the benefits of a uniform lease depend on a number of factors.

“It all depends on what form the lease takes,” Dane said. “If it is a two-page lease that is fairly easy to read, that’s great Ö My worst nightmare would be trying to read a 26-page lease.”

Dane also said the impact that a uniform lease would have for students depends on how many landlords agree to it.

“We still don’t know who is in (University Concerned Landlord Association),” Dane said about the anonymity of the group’s members since its formation last fall.

Klohs said the group’s members are not ready to become public because they feel the public perceives them as adversarial.

“We will open up more and more, because we want to be a positive impact within this community,” Klohs said.

The association first convened last fall in response to the inspections sweep following a house fire that killed three University students. The sweeps affected rental properties in the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods.

At that time, the group met once per week. Now association members meet once each month to discuss ways to solve ongoing problems with tenants, neighborhood associations and the city.

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council passed an ordinance change that makes it easier for housing inspectors to revoke rental licenses from landlords who knowingly acquire repeat housing violations on the same property.

Burns, who opposed the change because he said it “takes away due process” from property owners, was disappointed with the council’s decision. He said instead of creating problems, the association is formulating real solutions, such as the idea of a uniform lease.

Dane said if the prospective University Concerned Landlord Association lease is simple and has a substantial number of landlords use it, students will benefit.

But he said all student-renters should make sure they understand leases before they sign them.

“There is a very small number of students who come to legal services to discuss leases before they sign them,” Dane said. “I wish I could go over every student’s lease before they sign them.”