The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Landlords advise renters to explore options

While some leases are being signed, most are going to be ending come June 1. Professor emeritus of law, Erwin Steiner said there are a few things students need to know regarding their new and old leases before deciding to rent.

People signing the lease have the right to a return of a security deposit within 21 days of their lease ending, Steiner said. Many students don’t know about this right and often don’t get their money back. It’s not necessarily the landlord deciding to pocket the money, but rather there are likely damages to the property the landlord doesn’t report back to the tenant.

Steiner said security deposits are typically the amount of one month’s rent, which can be a significant amount of money to college students.

When asked if a tenant has ever tried to exercise this right, Daryl Heyenga, of Scheppke Rentals, 440 Broadway St., said this type of situation has never occurred with his company.

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“We must have good tenants and we must be doing a good job,” he said.

Scott Gunem of Caron Management, 202 Water St., also said he didn’t know of any major complaints with rentals. If there was a small problem, it was usually due to miscommunication and would be resolved informally, Gunem said.

Both Heyenga and Gunem said a common misconception of student renters is in regard to snow removal.

“Sometimes it’s an issue when students don’t remove (snow) as quickly as possible,” Heyenga said. He reminds renters it is their responsibility and the issue is resolved.

Steiner said if a problem persists with a landlord, it’s wise to get a third party involved. He said the Wisconsin Government Agency is the watchdog of tenants’ rights, and has it administered rights such as the return of the security deposit. Steiner does recommend, however, to only contact a third party after communicating to the landlord about the problem.

“I strongly encourage talking to the landlord first,” Steiner said. “If someone else is contacted first, the landlord could get upset, leading to more conflict.”

If a problem persists, Steiner recommends documenting any complaints or transactions with the landlord.

A piece of advice Steiner would give to students new to leasing is to shop around and ask other, older students to get a general reputation about companies.

Steiner said another place to find information about a renting company is the Better Business Bureau. Any complaints against a landlord are recorded at the Bureau, and it is a good resource for students to look into.

Once a student has found a potential lease to sign, both Heyenga and Gunem stress the importance of reading every detail on the lease.

“Take the time to read the lease and understand it,” Heyenga said.

Gunem said most landlords don’t try to hide anything, but sometimes misinterpretations of the lease, such as snow removal, occur because students don’t completely read through it.

Another piece of advice Gunem gave is for students to know their roommates well enough to live with for a year.

“It’s your lease and it’s important for students to know (if) they will get along,” Gunem said. He said he’s had to intervene in situations where roommates haven’t gotten along anymore, and helped find sub-leasers.

Steiner agrees that students should understand all the details of their lease.

“Read the lease over very carefully,” he said. “Know your obligations and the landlord’s obligations.” That way, if there are unfavorable clauses and provisions, the leaser can work it out before they sign the lease and it’s too late, Steiner said.

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Landlords advise renters to explore options