Tips for a Happy Carbondale Apartment
Elaine Conrad said miscommunication between the tenant and the resident is one of the main factors that lead to unreturned or delayed security deposits.
Conrad, community programs coordinator, works specifically with international students who have difficulty getting their security deposits back. Conrad also helps students understand their rights and responsibilities before signing a lease.
“Leases can be difficult to understand, even when English is someone’s first language,” she said.
Conrad said leasing policies differ from one apartment complex to another. She said some complexes have security deposits, which are to be paid beforehand, and some deposits are attached to the monthly rent.
Conrad said a verbal agreement is not enough.
“You can avoid any misunderstanding in the lease by asking questions, and getting anything agreed upon that’s not in the original release, in writing,” she said.
Richard Hall, a lecturer in the finance department, said security deposits are a hot issue in Carbondale, but there is an Illinois state law that can help residents in the event a tenant holds a security deposit for an extended period of time. The Security Deposit Return Act explains what a landlord has to do when returning a security deposit, he said.
The law applies to tenants of residential real property containing five or more units. This would include the larger apartment complexes in Carbondale such as Home Rentals, Lewis Park, and Saluki Apartments, Hall said.
The law states the lessor, or landlord, has 30 days from the date the resident vacates the premises to supply an itemized statement of all damages and the estimated cost for repair.
“That is from the date the premises is vacated, not the date of the end of the lease,” Hall said.
He said if the landlords do not supply a statement within 30 days, they are obligated by law to return the security deposit in its entirety within 45 days.
This could lead to some tenants not seeing their deposits for nearly two months.
Conrad said she stresses for students, national or international, to read every point of the lease and to find out if the security deposit is refundable or not beforehand. She said there could also be a cleaning deposit as opposed to a security deposit.
Students need to take photos or have written record of any damages in the living space, she said.
“If you can get them to sign off on that, or be present while you are taking pictures, that’s the smartest thing to do,” she said.
Richa Asarawala, a graduate student studying electrical and computer engineering from India, lives in Campus Habitat and hasn’t had any issues with her tenants.
“Before signing a lease, they need to read the whole lease papers carefully,” she said. “Not each and every lease is the same.”
Conrad said the Students’ Legal Assistance Office, located on the 3rd floor of the Student Center, has representatives available when students need advice concerning legal issues with understanding apartment leases.
Asarawala said students should be cautious when searching for apartments and not to rush into anything.
“Before you sign the lease, they are very good with you, but after you sign the lease, they sometimes don’t care for you at all,” she said.
Q: How much security
A: All states allow landlords to collect a security deposit when the tenant moves in; the general purpose is to assure that the tenant pays rent when due and keeps the rental unit in good condition. Half the states limit the amount landlords can charge, usually not more than a month or two worth of rent — the exact amount depends on the state. Many states require landlords to put deposits in a separate account and some require landlords to pay tenants the interest on deposits.
Q: What can a landlord
A: Landlords may normally make certain deductions from a tenant’s security deposit, provided they do it correctly and for an allowable reason. Many states require landlords to provide a written itemized accounting of deductions for unpaid rent and for repairs for damages that go beyond normal wear and tear, together with payment for any deposit balance.
Q: Is the landlord required to return the security deposit?
A: A tenant may sue a landlord who fails to return his or her deposit when and how required, or who violates other provisions of security deposit laws such as interest requirements; often these lawsuits may be brought in small claims court. If the landlord has intentionally and flagrantly violated the law, in some states, a tenant may recover the entire deposit — sometimes even two or three times this amount–plus attorney fees and other damages.
Daily Egyptian – November, 2011
It seems everyone knows someone who didn’t get along with their roommate.
Whether randomly selected or a best friend, two completely different people in one space can be a recipe for disaster. Being a roommate isn’t an easy task for anyone, but having a roommate is an important experience which can help develop problem-solving abilities.
Whether it’s because they are self-centered, messy or just because they’re too weird, there is always someone hard to tolerate. Although it may not seem like it at the time, living with a person like this provides a great learning lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom.
Cooperation skills, generosity and patience can be learned by living side-by-side with an intolerable person. Even more importantly, it teaches a person how to take the high road when they would much rather commit murder. Learning how to deal with clashing personalities will inevitably help in the future when stuck with the intolerable co-worker, supervisor or parent-in-law.
The random roommate process normally takes place the freshman year of incoming students. Colleges now try to match roommates by interests, habits and majors to better match people. Though this is better than a completely random pairing, it still doesn’t ensure that there is enough in common to live together while maintaining sanity. In order to ensure an easy transition to living together, people should avoid certain practices.
Don’t be the roommate that takes over the entire place. Just because one roommate got there first doesn’t entitle them to transform the entire place. It also doesn’t entitle them to take the best room with the best window on the best side of the place.
Transforming a room without the input of the other roommate makes the space only comfortable for one person. The best way to avoid a clash within the first ten minutes is to wait until all roommates are present before hanging posters, decorations, etc. Sharing a room requires an effort on both sides in order to build a bond between each other.
Just because roommates live together doesn’t mean they have to do everything together. The roommate that sticks like a leech following everything the other does can get annoying in a hurry. Sharing friends is fine, but it is important to have a separate friend group in order to keep space between each other.
A boundary on borrowing is another essential aspect in regards to getting along with a roommate. Not everyone follows the “what’s yours is mine” philosophy and it is important to set ground rules at the beginning. It is crucial that both roommates feel their belongings are safe and each roommate should discuss what things are off limits.
Don’t be a pig. Piles of old clothes, dirty dishes and bacteria-ridden trash can turn a living space into a dump quickly. Set up guidelines on whose turn it is to do which chores and stick to it. Whatever it may be, a dorm room, an apartment or a house, it is important to keep it functionally clean. It doesn’t have to be showroom-ready at all times but it should, at a bare minimum, be tolerable.
If living in a small apartment or dorm room, don’t take up all the space. Keep the room comfortable for everyone and respect boundaries. Try not to invite people over the nights a roommate is studying. Don’t wake up and start blasting music while a roommate is sleeping. Be considerate toward your roommate, and expect they be considerate toward you.
No one wants to be intolerable as a person. No one wants to live with an intolerable person, either. Maintain good communication between each other and avoid driving each other insane. Set up guidelines and let each other know if something is irritating.
Sharing a space with another person isn’t easy to do, but with the correct amount of give and take, it can work.
Students who are interested in living off campus should stop by the Students Legal Assistance Office on the third floor of the Student Center. The office provides a student with important legal information that should be known before signing a lease.
Mary Beth Arimond
Daily Egyptian – Februrary, 1996
Some students are starting to look for places to live next year, and they should learn some tips before signing a lease; otherwise, according to Students’ Legal Assistance, they could run into landlord and roommate problems.
The landlord problems began for Heather Hoydn when her neighbors played a trick one evening by shutting off the power from the main line, she said. However, as the power went out, so did the lights hovering over the parking lot.
Hoydn, a senior in early childhood education from Bartlett, said she realized she was paying her landlord’s electric bill along with her own. After ranting and raving, she finally received a refund on the difference of about $100 between her electric bill and her landlord’s bill, she said.
“I felt victimized when I rented from my landlord,” Hoydn said.
But, she said her problems were not over yet as one of her roommates pulled her into a financial disaster.
“My roommate tried to live in my apartment for free,” she said. “She didn’t pay rent, and she delayed almost every utility bill by about a month. By the end of the first semester, she owed me a $1,000.”
Hoydn said she finally got her money back after kicking her roommate out, but she still had to pay for her roommate’s bounced checks and had to search for a new roommate to help cover utility costs.
To avoid these kinds of problems, students should visit the SIUC Tenant-Landlord Union or Students’ Legal Assistance on the third floor of the Student Center to pick up a 30-page booklet on what tenants should look for before signing a lease with a landlord and their prospective roommates, Scott Pfeiffer, USG chief of staff, said.
Pfeiffer said the booklet suggests that students find out the background of the landlord. It informs students on how to understand and read the lease.
The booklet also has a section on how to avoid being taken advantage of when a roommate leaves, he said.
“One tip the booklet gives is students should settle any financial matters before the other roommate leaves,” Pfeiffer said.
Larry Schultz, law clerk for SIUC Students’ Legal Assistance, said students could be victimized if they have little experience or knowledge of renting property.
Schultz said if students have legal problems with their landlord, they should refer to Students’ Legal Assistance.
“We go over the general facts of the situation between the landlord and the tenant,” he said. “Once we determine the legal rights, we advise them the advantages of out-of-court settlements and the consequences of being successfully sued.”
Schultz said his office does not handle student-to-student conflicts. He said for this type of service, students should go to Alternative Dispute Resolution, a service in the SIU School of Law.
“It’s an organization that helps folks who would rather not litigate,” he said. “Students usually realize they can’t afford to sue or be sued.”
Schultz said most universities have offices dedicated solely to helping off-campus housing residents, but that is not the case at SIUC.
Sharon Hammer, Carbondale city attorney, said students should do research on landlords and roommates before they sign a lease.”Students could learn which landlords have a bad reputation and should know their roommates’ financial history,” Hammer said.
She said students should create a checklist of what should be in the apartment and what is broken upon moving into an apartment.
“They should walk through the apartment or house with the person they will rent from,” she said. “If they won’t come along, then students should take photographs of anything they could be charged for, so if the landlord charges students for a ripped carpet, they have a better argument to get their deposit back.”
Hammer said students should ask for a blank copy of the lease and read over it very carefully before signing it. She said students might be able to negotiate certain terms of the lease.
“Landlords are willing to alter leases with tenants if they are responsible and won’t tear up the place,” she said.
Bonnie Owen, said many of the misunderstandings she has with her tenants arise when tenants do not read leases thoroughly.
“My leases are very comprehensive,” Owen said. “My staff goes through the lease with the students, and they explain to them what they need to pay.”
Darren Pierson, supervisor of Home Rentals, said anyone who wants a copy of the lease can get one, and they should take it seriously.
“Everyone should read the lease, realize it’s a document and know they are going to deal with Home Rentals for the next 12 months,” Pierson said.