DeKalb renters: Do you know your rights?

By Amber Siwicki

After we have served our time in the residence halls, most college students move on to bigger and better residences.

Or do we?

How many student renters have excitedly moved into an apartment, only to be disappointed by their new homes? Personally, I have heard story on top of story of such occurrences.

No one tells student renters about their rights as tenants. Several things I, as well as my friends, have experienced would only fly in a town of ill-informed, inexperienced young renters.

Each and every individual who rents in DeKalb should own a copy of “The DeKalb Tenant’s Handbook.” Inside are all the regulations that landlords must abide by in the city of DeKalb.

I hope we have all been taught, or learned the hard way, to take pictures so the apartment’s condition is fully documented. Unfortunately, that really is all we have been taught.

The handbook states that during a move-out, the landlord will conduct an inspection. Depending on management, the tenant may or may not be required to be present. Either way, during this inspection, no dollar amount should be discussed.

The landlord is to mail your security deposit packet to where it is postmarked within 30 days after your move-out date. At that point, payment is due to you. Under no circumstances do you pay directly following the move-out inspection. No one individual is knowledgeable on how much time and money will need to be spent cleaning, painting and repairing the residence.

If you have any questions or concerns about your security return, or lack thereof, tenants are entitled to copies of receipts of all the work done within the unit they inhabited. Some management companies will even try to have tenants sign away their rights to these receipts. This is only legitimate if all tenants sign this form. However, under no circumstances do you want to waive this right. You could easily be overcharged and lose your full security deposit. You could possibly owe additional money and would not be able to see proof if the amount taken from you is even correct.

On this point, I would like to stress that all renters should be sure to read every word of a document before signing it. No matter how much you are rushed or led to believe a document says a certain thing, read it over for yourself.

It is safe to say most people know that if something breaks in the apartment, the landlord is required to fix it. However, most do not know that the property manager has 90 days to correct the problem. Though circumstances such as these are important, I would be more concerned about being aware of less obvious rights, such as getting my $1100 security deposit back at the end of my lease.

Everybody renting an apartment in DeKalb cannot afford to be in the dark on their rights. Take 10 minutes and go to your property manager’s office.

Read “The DeKalb Tenant’s Handbook” through, and know what you are entitled to.

Taking 20 minutes to read this handbook was the difference between owing money on top of losing my entire security deposit, and getting a full return.

Amber Siwicki is an opinion columnist for the Northern Star.