Many CU students rent apartments and houses while attending CU, but misinformation and lack of knowledge about leases, roommates and landlords have the potential to hurt these students.
A helpful resource for students who wish to avoid the difficulties of being a new renter is the Off-Campus Student Services office.
According to their website, Off-Campus Student Services is a CUSG-funded group that provides legal advice, a list of roommates, apartments, rooms, houses for rent, and party registration, as well as copies of the Boulder Tenant Guide and the Boulder Model Lease.
Bruce Sarbaugh, owner of a private practice in Boulder and the legal adviser for Off-Campus Student Services, said the biggest problem with students and their rental agreements is misunderstanding the terms of their leases.
“As far as renters’ rights are concerned, students need to understand, you can negotiate leases,” Sarbaugh said. “A lot of times students go into a lease without knowing what their responsibilities will be. You have to read your lease.”
Max Valentine, an 18-year-old philosophy major and freshman, said he thinks Off-Campus Student Services will come in handy the first time he signs a lease.
“I’m planning on living off campus next year,” Valentine said. “It’s good to know that there is an office on campus that can help you navigate landlords and roommates and leases.”
Sarbaugh said he has also seen several security deposit disputes due to cleaning issues and lack of evidence of damage.
“Students don’t always get back the money they were expecting because they do not do a deep clean of the place, like underneath the refrigerator drawers for example,” Sarbaugh said. “Landlords expect more than superficial cleaning.”
Sarbaugh said he thinks documenting the state of the residence at the beginning of the lease can save students a lot of headache.
“In the process of moving in, go through the house documenting the condition of the place by filling out the check list of damages and taking pictures,” Sarbaugh said. “You need pictures when dealing with a security deposit dispute.”
Along with helping CU students find roommates and places to live, Off-Campus Student Services does roommate and subleasing agreements, according to its website.
Roommates come into the Off-Campus Student Services office and agree to things like cleaning schedules, what happens when the rent is late, frequency of parties and friends coming over, what to do if a roommate needs to sublet their room, and any other foreseeable issues, Sarbaugh said.
Scott Christensen, a 20-year-old junior environmental studies major, said he thinks the roommate agreement sounds like a good idea.
“I have a roommate that barely lives with us anymore and has stopped paying rent,” Christensen said. “Maybe it would have been better if we all knew what we were getting into.”
Sean Durgee, a 20-year-old junior environmental design major, said he didn’t know about Off-Campus Student Services but he thinks it sounds helpful in searching for off-campus housing.
“I didn’t know that CU had something like this but it sounds like the free legal advice could be helpful if you have a problem with your landlord,” Durgee said.
Sarbaugh said Off-Campus Student Services plans to become better-known.
“We are about getting information to students and making them informed consumers,” Sarbaugh said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex Lemley at Alexandria.email@example.com.