July 29, 2015
As summer winds down and young adults turn their attention back to school or work, many are deciding where to live. College students are making plans to move to their college or university and weighing their housing options of living in a dorm or renting, while others are looking for the right apartment or house to rent. Some will be renting for the first time and need to know that shopping for an apartment or rental house is just as important and complex as buying a car or evaluating the benefits of a new phone or game console.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s alert to educate young consumers on how to be smart while shopping for an apartment or rental house.
“Many college students opt for off-campus housing, rather than living in the dorms,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And many young adults have been saving money to move into their first place. These young renters need to know what questions to ask a landlord, what to look for in an apartment or rental house and the warning signs of a bad deal.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to those considering rental options:
- Read the lease in full before signing and ask questions.
- Ask about the utilities. Who is the provider for each service? What is the average monthly cost? Does the landlord cover any of these costs?
- Consider asking the landlord or local law enforcement if there have been any noise complaints filed against the neighbors.
- Consider contacting the local police department or campus police to ask about safety of the area.
- Look at the condition of the carpet and paint to ensure its quality.
- Take pictures of the carpet, paint, appliances and any other fixtures before moving in. This could protect you if a landlord claims you caused any damages.
- Ask the landlord if he or she will be responsible for appliance/air conditioning/furnace maintenance and make sure those responsibilities are mentioned in the lease.
- Learn about the lease cancellation policy and ask questions.
- Consider a nine-month lease for the school term instead of a full 12-month lease.
- Clarify the details of the security deposit and the landlord’s policy for its return after the apartment or rental house is vacated.
Renters should also familiarize themselves with state as well as local city laws about landlords and tenants.
Late last year, Fayetteville, Arkansas, joined other university towns across the country, including Salisbury, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Ames, Iowa, passing an ordinance requiring landlords to confirm, in writing, no more than three unrelated roommates are living together in a single-family home. This ordinance stemmed from homeowners near the University of Arkansas complaining about noise, trash and parking issues when more than three college students live together in a single-family home.
For more information on landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, or to file a complaint, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.