Knowing your rights as a college tenant
By Channing Flatt—
Renting a house or apartment is an experience that is new to most college students and hopefully, the experience will be a brilliant one. The best thing for the students is to have a civil, friendly relationship with their landlord, keep everything in good condition, go through an end of tenancy cleaning checklist when you finish college and you’ll easily get your deposit back. But this doesn’t always happen and tenants and landlords fall out so knowing your rights as a tenant is beneficial, crucial and can potentially save you money. Keeping your landlord sweet is great advice but also being prepared in case something does go horribly wrong is essential such as rental property insurance. This type of insurance can give you coverage for your belongings and more!
Texan News interviewed local attorney Brady Pendleton about what tenants should watch out for when renting for the first time.
Pendleton said that even though most landlords are honest people, tenants should still know their rights so they are not taken advantage of. It’s important that the tenants raise any issues with the conditions in the property. For example, if there are issues with the roof, let your landlord know so he can contact the WDR Roofing Company to get it sorted. If he doesn’t and the living conditions continue to deteriorate, you’re being taken advantage of.
“The reality is there are a lot of good people renting houses not only to college students, but a lot of the residents of Stephenville,” said Pendleton. “They do a good job, but there unfortunately is a lot of folks out there as well who want to take advantage of those who just don’t know the law. Or a lot of times, folks at their own fault just don’t read their leases enough and don’t understand their contractual obligation.”
Pendleton says that one of the most common questions clients have when it comes to their rental properties is their security deposit.
“One of the top questions I always get is my security deposit will not be returned or my landlord refuses to return the security deposit,” said Pendleton.
He went on to explain that there are a few important things a tenant must do to ensure their security deposit gets returned.
“There are some crucial things you got to do. Number one: I always encourage prior to vacating the property, you need to get your landlord to go through the property with you,” said Pendleton. “Make sure that anything that is wrong has been fixed and that they don’t have any objections to the condition that the property is in and get that in writing.”
On top of making sure the landlord does not have any issues with the condition of the house, Pendleton urges tenants not to forget a crucial detail in getting their deposit back.
“One of the obligations that are on the tenant that they have to do in order for the landlord to refund that deposit is they have to give written notice of their forwarding address. Most of the time folks don’t do that and they don’t get their deposit back.”
Besides the security deposit, Pendleton pointed out that many times tenants will forget an important provision in their contract and must stay longer than expected.
“Another provision of the lease that a lot of people forget about is that a lot of leases say you have to give (a) 60 or 90-day written notice that you are not going to renew the lease, or you will be obligated to renew that lease. Therefore, people think they only have to give one month notice and then they’ll be stuck in the lease for another month if not longer,” said Pendleton.
Pendleton says he urges tenants to read the lease agreement.
“The important thing is to read it (the lease), but when you read it, be sure to know what is your obligation as far as money, as far as terms of the contract, how to get out of the lease, what do you have to give to terminate the lease, and then of course what other obligations you have to repair or maintain the property,” he said
For more information about tenants’ rights, visit txtenants.org.