housing

The main page of MPTSS' off-campus housing portal.

Military and Post-Traditional Student Services has teamed up with Students’ Legal Assistance to host a webpage assisting students who are looking for off-campus housing.

Potential student renters can look at review histories for property owners to identify which owners have a history of not meeting legal obligations.

A link to tenant reviews can be found on the off-campus housing resources webpage. Once logged in, students can browse through 38 property management companies in the DeKalb-Sycamore area. Each entry features the date, issue type, student review, landlord reply and resolution.

Students currently renting can fill out a tenant review form if they have experienced mismanagement by property owners. These forms, which are submitted to and reviewed by MPTSS, can also be accessed through the off-campus housing resources webpage.

MPTSS Associate Director Jeffrey Salmon said the goal of this service, which launched in August, is to encourage students to make more informed decisions when selecting a place to live, especially if it’s their first time.

“We’re trying to put [together] a lot of different avenues where students can access information, to help them … understand what it means to be a renter,” he said. “We just want them to be really prepared.”

Veronica Klaus, office manager for Students’ Legal Assistance, said the role her department plays in handling disputes between students and property owners.

“[MPTSS] won’t be addressing [legal] concerns,” she said. “They’re just advocating for the student to get a resolution. If the advocacy doesn’t happen, and they don’t get a resolution, that’s when we’ll step in.”

Salmon said MPTSS receives many submissions from students regarding security deposit disputes, and he uses this as an example to explain how MPTSS addresses student tenant concerns.

“We can help with that type of a dispute by just reaching out to the property owner and asking them, ‘What’s going on?’ … [and] having them give us a chance to tell their side of the story,” he said.

Salmon said this process is meant to create an understanding between the two conflicting parties, so a resolution can be reached and legal proceedings can be avoided, if possible.

Property owners are given two opportunities to respond to students’ concerns with how they choose to either resolve or not resolve the reported issue, before they’re turned over to Students’ Legal Assistance, Klaus said.

“After that second request for information, if they don’t [respond], then it comes into our office,” she said. “Then we take over because either the property owner hasn’t responded in time, or the response was questionable or something that the student didn’t agree with.”

There is only one review currently listed on the site. The review is for College Housing Group, which Klaus explained is due to both the newness of the program and the duration of the process for each case.

“As we are getting more into the semester, we are seeing more issues coming in,” she said. “[But] it’s a process, so we don’t get instant resolutions. That is something that … can take up to a month.”

Students can schedule an appointment with MPTSS either through phone, 815-753-9999, or email, ocntss@niu.edu.

To schedule an appointment with Students’ Legal Assistance, students must first fill out an online intake form, which requires they provide case information and a valid OneCard photo. The office may then be reached at 815-753-1701 or studentslegal@niu.edu.

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