A student guide for renting

Photo courtesy | John Swanson
Students have a wide range of apartments to choose from around NDSU.

How to be aware of the responsibilities that come with renting

After freshmen year, many students choose to move into an apartment. While choosing to live in an apartment can add a new sense of independence, one thing student tenants must be aware of is security deposits as well as other responsibilities that come with renting.

The first thing that students should learn about when deciding to rent an apartment is security deposits. A security deposit is an amount of money that each tenant provides to the landlord or property management company of their new residence before moving in. The purpose of a security deposit is to cover any damages caused by the tenant. If no damages are made by the tenant, they are then given the security deposit back when they move out.

The importance of the tenant-landlord relationship comes in handy when it comes to security deposits and an easy move-out process. While students might not run into any problems while they rent their apartment, it’s still important to know about their renter responsibilities and be aware of any issues that may arise.

Jerry Saude, an NDSU alumni, talked about some troubles his son, Bjorn Saude who is an NDSU student, and nephew, Noah Schoenfeld, ran into when they were moving out of their apartment last year. Saude explained that after they completed the one-page check sheet for moving out at the end of May, they were then demanded $1,235 from the landlord for damages in late June despite the landlord telling them that everything looked okay.

Each state has a different time frame for when landlords can make claims against the security deposit or return of the unused portion. In North Dakota, landlords are given 30 days according to the ND Century Code. “In that time frame, students have returned to their home towns and may have no documentation as to the condition of the rental unit, except the standard landlord form,” Saude said.

Saude explained that landlords should tell tenants who are moving out what will need to be fixed and replaced and what it’s going to cost so there’s no charge that the tenant is unaware of.

Saude also gave some insight on how student renters can avoid running into issues when moving out. “My point is students who are renting need to be aware of what to look for and what questions to ask when they give notice and hand over the keys to their apartment. They should be pro-active and take their own photos of anything noted on the check in-check out form used by their landlord.”

When it comes to what questions to ask, Saude gave a list of what students should ask their landlords during the move-out process. The first question that should be asked is whether you’re going to get all of your security deposit back. “If they can’t tell you yes or no, I think they’re hedging and that sends up a red flag.”

Another question that can be asked is how much any damages in the apartment will cost. Saude added that taking your own photos and even a video of the apartment can help identify any damages the landlord points out. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and write things down and document it,” Saude said.

Communicating with the landlord is also important in order to resolve any problems that arise while renting. Saude said that if there’s something that needs to be fixed, sending the landlord an email or text will provide you a copy of that conversation. “Dialogue is so important in these relationships.”

Being aware of renter responsibilities will also help prepare students for future business deals. “It’s a lesson everybody has to learn,” Saude said. “Read the contract, read the fine print or ask them to summarize it for you.”

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