Students are often unaware of their legal rights, something landlords know very well.
When heading out to find that perfect place to call home for next year, there are a few important red flags to watch out for.
Michelle Willett, marketing publications coordinator for the Off-Campus Student Services Office, said that students can consult OCSS’s lawyer for legal advice and free lease reviews.
“There is a lawyer in the office on Tuesdays and Fridays who will review their lease and give a heads up to all of that stuff you probably don’t want to read but really need to know,” Willett said.
Bruce Sarbaugh, attorney at the Off-Campus Student Services Office, said students should be careful about documenting the condition of the house or apartment during the move-in period.
“Students should be diligent about taking pictures that could potentially be used to prove to a judge the original condition of the house,” Sarbaugh said.
Sarbaugh said that the most common problems he sees are caused by issues of over-occupancy, defined as more than three unrelated people living together in a house together.
Willett said that students should be communicating with their landlord and know their responsibilities, obligations and the terms of their contract.
“Check with the city zoning office to see what the property is legally zoned for,” Willett said. “It is a red flag if the landlord allows more people to live in a property than those on the lease. If the students are caught over-occupying they will have to pay the fines to the city and the students not on the lease will be forced to move out.”
Sarbaugh said landlords often try to take advantage of students.
“Landlords try to fine students unfairly,” Sarbaugh said. “Students should look for clear contracts and understand the terms.”
Kara Babcock, a 19-year-old sophomore business management major, said she worries about extra fees and hidden charges.
“It’s frustrating going to an apartment complex and finding that the rent is more than what was advertised,” Babcock said. “I worry about landlords fining me or telling me my rent went up.”
Willett suggests making sure all the terms of the lease are clear-cut.
“If there are any promises the landlord makes, get them in writing,” Willett said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lauren Knobbe at Lauren.email@example.com.