Know your lease: landlord/tenant laws

With many college students at this time looking at where to live next semester, it’s important to be aware of the landlord and tenant laws that all must abide by.

Tina Krewer of Heritage Realty said that student renters need to read and understand the entirety of their lease. She said they should also understand that once you have signed it, you have to adhere to it.

“It would be nice if students understood that a legal contract is a legal contract,” Krewer said.

Krewer added that it helps to make sure you have a copy of your lease to look back on if you have questions.

Understanding how many people are allowed to stay for an extended period of time, what cars are allowed to park in front of your home and who is responsible for certain repairs can all be found on a lease contract.

“Things that might deprive you of electricity or water … the landlord has some obligations that require them to act very quickly,” Wynn Mosman of Mosman Law Offices said.

Mosman has been an attorney for more than 20 years and comes to WSU and advises students with legal troubles at Student Legal Services upstairs in the Compton Union Building.

He tells students to always keep things in writing as calls can be ignored or forgotten. He said repairs that are not the fault of the tenant must be handled by the landlord within 10 days of written notification.

“All of the landlord’s obligation is … contingent upon written notification from the tenant.” Mosman said.

Debbie Thompsen of Dabco Property Management said moving out is just as important as moving in, especially when renters want as much of their security deposit back as possible.

The largest obstacle to this, Thompsen said, is renters leaving a mess. She said if the landlord has to come in and clean the whole apartment, house, etc., the money for the cleaners will come out of the security deposit.

Bianca Schwab of The Grove apartment complex said that unlike most rentals, The Grove does not have a security deposit. They furnish the apartments for you, making you responsible for whatever furniture is in your apartment. Then they assess damage fees to tenants after they have moved out.

“Take care of it like you were living in your parents’ home,” Schwab said.

Mosman advises renters to always take pictures of the apartment when they move in and also when they move out, as a safety measure to help settle disputes between tenant and landlord.