Houses on Knapp Street.

After countless hours of scavenging the internet, you have finally found an apartment within your price range, close to campus and has adequate WiFi to support the journey of hybrid learning that awaits you this fall.

You’re ready to be done with the process, only to realize you must sit down and examine a 20-page contract to ensure you are not signing away your firstborn child to your landlord. 

Likely, wherever you choose to rent from will not include this in your rental agreement, but it is important to understand your rights as a tenant before you sign. 

Under the Fair Housing Act, discriminatory practices are prohibited, meaning a landlord can not discriminate against tenants or potential tenants based on race, gender, religion, familial status, disability or ethnicity.

The act is applied when landlords decide whether to rent to potential tenants, setting rules for individual tenants and advertising the apartment is only available to certain people. 

Ames City Council ex officio and senior majoring in elementary education, Nicole Whitlock, has rented in Ames for almost three years coming this fall and said she struggled with receiving timely repairs from her landlord.

In the majority of states, landlords owe tenants the duty of habitability, which ensures you receive necessities such as heat, water and electricity and a structurally sound building that is up to code. It is their job to maintain the real estate.

As a renter, be aware of any provisions in the lease regarding privacy, such as when landlords can enter your rental with notice and the amount of time they give for the notice. 

Ames City Council Ward 4 Rep. and senior majoring in chemical engineering Rachel Junck is also a renter in Ames and said she has had a fairly good experience, but just because she has doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone else. 

“I think it is about the power dynamic, especially for students that are first-time renters it is great to be as informed as possible and know your rights so that is is less likely that you could be discriminated against or taken advantage of,” Junck said. 

Tenants can find more information regarding renting rights on Rent Smart Ames on the city of Ames website.

“I think it is very important, not just with renting but in general, for everyone to know the rights they have and the power that they have,” Whitlock said. “Because I think students a lot of times or just renters in general, feel powerless and kind of have to give up to their landlord and that is not true at all. If you know your rights and you have high expectations I think you will have a lot better experience renting.”

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