Understanding Rights as a Renter

As the school year approaches – many college students are either signing new leases or moving into new apartments. But sometimes, people just autograph a piece of paper without reading everything they’re committing to. 

Michelle Reinen with the Department of Trade and Consumer Protection tells everyone to take a closer look at their lease and understand what’s in the contract. She says “students need to make sure they read their lease thoroughly. And if they rented and they re-read that lease so they’re completely familiar with all of their rights and responsibilities – and what the landlord is responsible for as well.”

Reinen adds that “one of the biggest things we see every year is landlord-tenant
complaints. We receive more than a thousand of them – a lot involve security
deposits. And that’s the money you put down up front, and they hold it until
you move out. Those landlords hold it to make sure damage won’t be done to the

She says in order to get your security deposit back – it’s important to be specific and detailed with the initial checklist “and back up the written word with photos. So that way you have actual
pictures to help tell your story. And then when it comes time to move out, same
thing – take those pictures, ask for a walk through with your landlord so you
can talk about the condition. Maybe there’s something you can repair before you

There are also conflicts regarding when and how landlords are allowed to inspect their properties. Reinen reminds people that the property does belong to the landlord, but there are specific reasons they need before entering an occupied apartment. She says “everyone needs to remember this is the landlord’s investment, you know
it’s their investment and property so they do have a right to inspect. But they
need to give you notice – unless it’s an emergency like smoke or water or
something they see that’s an emergency situation. So be communicative, back and