Know Your Rights as a Tenant

The new school year means lots of students will either be living in residence halls or off-campus rented housing for the first time. Taking a few minutes now to familiarize yourself with the applicable laws and regulations can help make your year safe, fun, and as stress-free as possible.

If you are living on campus the Department of Residence Life website has a variety of information about residence hall life. Dorm residents should check out the Community Handbook, a set of rules specific to residence halls. Of particular interest is the section on staff entry to dorm rooms. The Department of Residence Life also maintains a seperate Alcohol Policy about rules, sanctions, and resources related to alcohol.

House ClipartLiving off-campus? Before moving in be sure you’ve examined the lease and have all your landlord’s contact information. It’s their job to repair routine maintenance problems that arise, so don’t hesitate to contact them if you notice problems with your house or apartment. In general, it’s best to communicate with your landlord in writing – either by letter or email – so that you have a record if there are any problems later. The University’s Off-Campus Housing Services website has housing listings if you are still looking for a place to live. If you have trouble with your landlord the Undergraduate Student Legal Aid Office or Graduate Student Legal Aid Office can provide you with free advice about housing or a variety of other issues. The City of College Park website has information about parking permits, trash collection, and other city services. Chapter 138 of the city code describes the rules relating to excessive noise, which can result in a $500 fine.

Taking a few minutes to review some of this material now can eliminate headaches later. We’ve added some of these links under “housing” on the right.

One thought on “Know Your Rights as a Tenant”

  1. A piece of advice from a student who has lived off campus for two years: read your lease carefully at least twice. If you’re not sure what should be in there, take it to the Undergraduate Student Legal Aid Office and ask them to take a look at it. While some landlords are great, there are certainly some that expect students will not read their lease– and they will take advantage of that fact.

    Also, try and talk to the previous tenants. You can find out how good the landlord was, but even answers to questions like how safe they felt at night or what kinds of neighbors they had.

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