Rethink responsibilities as a renter

By Tahlia Terhune, Guest writer

Many students have moved out of the parental nest or college dorm and are finally experiencing the sweet taste of freedom at their rental home or apartment. They have made it free and clear.

Renting is a great way to get some freedom and feel a sense of what it may be like to live independently. However, every renter should be cognizant of a few do’s and don’ts before beginning this new chapter in their lives.

Do… Have open communication with your landlord. Your landlord will act as the gatekeeper for your opportunity of freedom. While you may hold expectations for renting, your landlord has expectations as well. All expectations should be explicitly described in the rental agreement. Things such as when payments are due and house rules will be outlined; don’t ignore them.

Befriend your neighbors. Whether your neighbor is a fellow Lute or a member of the Parkland community, knowing your neighbors has many benefits. You can go to them with questions and if you’re lucky, they’ll invite you over for a barbecue. Not many would complain about free food.

According to the Wang Center, about 300 students study abroad for J-Term, which means as a Lute, you may likely find yourself needing to sublet (rent your room to an individual for a temporary period of time). Always communicate subletting with your landlord so they are aware of who their renters are. If you can, only sublet to people you know. If you must have someone you don’t know sublet, arrange for specific move-in and move-out days. Write it in a contract so the expectations are clear.

“Do a walk through with your landlord and take a lot of pictures,” Junior Sarah Davis said. “Claim any issues so they can be fixed before you move in. You don’t want damages that weren’t caused by you to be taken out of your deposit.”

Deposits are necessary for securing your new home and are designed to be returned to good renters. To ensure keeping your deposit, have proof of any previous damage and respect the space. This can mean anything from not putting nails in the walls to keeping carpets clean.

Don’t… It’s not nice to eat your roommates’ food. This rule is simple. Just don’t do it. If you must, ask before you assume.

Beginning the year without any rules or expectations is not advised. A large part of living with other people is comfortability. If your expectations are never met you might not feel comfortable living in your home or apartment.

Everything from cleanliness to having company over should be discussed prior to beginning this journey to avoid future conflict between yourself and your roommates.

Being late on payments is not smart. Your landlord doesn’t owe it to you to give you a grace period on tardy payments but they may do so out of the goodness of their heart. Timely payments are a critical aspect in owning your responsibilities. Best case scenario: there are no consequences but you will need to immediately pay and will end up on the bad side with your landlord. Worst case scenario: you get evicted.

If renting is something you’re interested in, sites such as Zillow and the PLU Housing Facebook page are great resources to find what is available and connect with possible roommates.

Renting in college is an experience unlike any other. It’s a rare time in life to be on your own, while still having the support of peers and a college community surrounding you. Pay close attention to detail and fully understand your responsibilities as a renter. Most importantly, take advantage of this time while you can.

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