“Rules of Rent” campaign

Carolyn Campbell
Campus Relations
Student Government Association

The 2013-2014 school year has so far proven to be a busy one for the FHSU Student Government Association. A new slate of Senators and Executive Staff members has brought a new slate of issues to discuss in order to improve and enhance the lives of our fellow students. One of the issues SGA is looking forward to working through is the “Rules of Rent” campaign for students living off campus.

The goal of this campaign is to inform off-campus students (and anyone planning to live off-campus in the future) of the rights they have to proper living conditions. This includes anything from properly-functioning hot and cold running water, installment of safety devices like smoke detectors, pest control, properly-functioning heating and air conditioning units, and much more.

In addition to notifying students of their rights to housing of proper condition, the Housing Guide (found on the SGA Website http://www.fhsustudents.org) also informs students of the necessity of purchasing renter’s insurance which is not a guarantee or a right under a rental agreement.

Renter’s insurance is a smart, cost-effective choice for any tenant. Because the landlord’s insurance does not cove possessions owned by the tenant in an event of a burglary or disaster, it is important for tenants to think about purchasing this additional insurance to protect their personal belongings. Students should first check with their current insurance companies (in many cases, the companies used by their parents for auto and homeowners insurance) to find out if those companies have renter’s policies available. If not, it is important for students to do their research to find companies with good coverage at a decent price.

The housing guide highlights the importance of inspection prior to signing the renter’s agreement. Inspections done properly will ensure that not only is the unit in acceptable living condition for the prospective tenant, but that any damages reported in the inspection will not be the responsibility of the tenant. In other words, if a tenant reports any problems prior to signing the lease, he or she will not be held responsible for these damages after moving out of the unit.

Finally, the guide lists the responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. Yes, it is important to note that tenants do have responsibilities, including keeping the unit clean, using preventive measures to ensure no damage is done (i.e. keeping flammable materials away from heat sources) and allowing the landlord access to make repairs at reasonable times. The purpose of this list is not to burden the tenant, but to inform tenants of the kinds of things they are responsible for and what their landlords are responsible for. Any discrepancies should be addressed prior to signing the lease to avoid any legal issues.

The full housing guide can be downloaded in PDF form at http://www.fhsustudents.org under the tab labeled “Housing Guide.” If students have any questions, they are free to contact the Student Government Association or the City of Hays at any time. Contact information for various offices, including Zoning, Public Works, and the Ellis County Health Department can be found on this guide.

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