If you are a student at the University of Delaware or are the parent of a student living off campus during their time away at college, it is important that all responsible parties pay close attention to the details within any rental/lease agreements. This may be the first time most students ever put their signature on a binding agreement. When landlords and tenants have disagreements, it is generally the tenants who find the learning curve to be a most unforgiving. There are a few realities when it comes to student apartments and off-campus housing rentals. First, is that many students tend not to treat their apartments and houses with the utmost care. There are spills, ashes, stains and smells that come standard with a good deal of student extracurricular activity. Another factor is that landlords are not unaware of this reality and rental rates and security deposits are priced accordingly.
Like many landlord/tenant disputes, those related to student housing stem from a lack of adequate maintenance being provided by a landlord, abuse of the property on the part of the tenant and, of course, unpaid rent. One way or another, problems generally arise when one or both parties fall short of delivering on obligations laid out in the lease agreement. It is at this point when it is critical to know where you stand. Is the landlord abiding by Federal Law such as the Fair Housing Act and/or Delaware Code Title 25 §§ Ch. 53 – Ch. 59? Has the tenant invited more students to live in the unit, potentially violating local zoning laws related to occupancy restrictions? Determining who is in violation of a lease agreement (and how) is not always simple. The best advice to renters and landlords is to begin with respectful communication regarding any grievances. Document everything in writing and take pictures/video where applicable. If you cannot achieve satisfaction through direct communication, it may be best to seek the advice and services of seasoned real estate attorneys like us.
Renting a house or apartment shouldn’t have to be a hassle for students, and as long as all parties live up to their obligations and the spirit of the items detailed in the lease agreement, it can be a pretty healthy relationship for all involved.