Contracts are to be honored

Contract: An agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.

Advocacy: The act of pleading for, supporting or recommending active espousal.

Obligation: The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie.

What do these three denotations have as a common thread? They are supposed to be three edicts of paramount importance to which a licensed counselor at law subscribes.

The editorial written by Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards, which appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of the Northern Star, not only advocates complete disregard for the aforementioned principles of law but more importantly is devoid of any and all ethical and moral imperatives of which America’s system of law is based upon.

Owners of student rental properties operate in the same environment in which many others operate in: The business world. While providing high levels of consumer support may be looked upon as an overriding principle by many, the protection of one’s assets is also placed in high regard.

It may in fact be true that many student-rental property owners act in a manner not only unbecoming to consumer satisfaction but in a manner which is unlawful.

Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards take great effort to depict many local property owners in a negative manner, however, at no time throughout their editorial are the words unlawful, unenforceable or illegal utilized.

Cumbersome, burdensome and hamstrung are adjectives which the esteemed counselors of law espouse to be commonplace ends which logically follow from the of contracts by rental property owners.

For example, they describe a covenant put forward in a rental contract by a local property owner which calls for a $25/day fine for an unauthorized pet.

First, one might look upon it as a means for protecting one’s assets. Take for instance a cat which has resided within an apartment for a year. The specter of damage becomes readily apparent. Carpet, padding and wood-floor injuries are not “egregious.” They are real injuries suffered by an owner who might term the process of collecting reparation “cumbersome, awkward and burdensome”.

Second, property owners are not in business to foster symbolic relationships. They are business persons who are trying to operate within a capitalist society.


If one, in a lucid and rational state of mind, devoid of coercion, places their signature upon a contract then should they not be forced to honor reasonable penalties upon a material breach?

If a student at NIU decides to discontinue payment on their account then an encumbrance on their account is expeditiously placed therein and a finance charge is assessed, not dissimilar to a person’s relationship with their credit card lender.

It is true that a property owner is obligated to mitigate their propensity to accumulate damages when a contract is in question. However, law also obligates the other signatures to mitigate damages as well. A point that Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards so conveniently leave absent in their editorial.

I am sure there are many landlords and owners in DeKalb who operate in an unlawful and surreptitious manner. On the other hand many owners and landlords place great importance in and take significant action towards securing a clean, safe, and fun atmosphere in which their tenants may reside.

It is painfully unfortunate that Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards, trained and licensed attorneys, consistently author editorials which mis/malinform the very audience to which they are ethically obligated to protect.

College is the time in which many young adults are making efforts, vis-a-vis education, to mature and gain faculties such as analytical skills and reasoning skills. It is a disservice to all in the NIU community, as well as greater DeKalb, that Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards are not willing to subscribe to the very theory their profession mandates: the advocacy system.

The pursuit of a just and ethical solution, on any social plane, should not be wane, be enjoined or be abandoned simply in the interest of expediency or one’s comfort level with following lawful rules.

It is incumbent upon you, the NIU community, to force Mr. Henderson and Ms. Richards to remove their veil of ignorance and provide legal counseling and education in a more than myopic manner!

D. Richard Roth, Jr.

NIU Alumni