When it comes to landlord-tenant problems, some tenants are more at risk than others. This includes low-income tenants, disabled and elderly tenants, and also student tenants. According to a recent article, University of North Carolina students living in the Chapel Hill neighborhood are particularly prone to encountering rental issues, including burglary, gas and water leaks, out-of-repair flooring, vermin infestations, unjustified loss of security deposits, and other issues.
There are a variety of reasons it is common for students to deal with landlord-tenant disputes. The high price of housing, the age/dilapidation of the units, and the fact that owners often have minimal contact with their tenants are a few reasons. In some cases, students are unable to get the landlord’s help because they themselves are not in compliance with local occupancy rules and are afraid to get in trouble.
Another reason students can face rental problems is that property owners are too often willing to take advantage of students’ ignorance of their legal rights as tenants. The rental management companies owners use to run their properties are typically only concerned with the interests of owners, the people who pay them, and don’t always cooperate in investigations.
To be sure, it is important for students, and all tenants, to understand their legal duties to ensure they are in compliance with their contractual obligations and local rules. Prior to signing a lease, any potential tenant is well advised to consult an experienced attorney to ensure they understand the terms of the lease and that they have the opportunity to negotiate any questionable matters in advance, before they are bound by a contract.
It is also important for tenants, however, to understand their legal rights, so that they recognize when their owner and/or property manager is/are failing to abide by established legal duties. We’ll say more about this in a future post, and the importance or working with an experienced attorney to protect these rights.