Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Local housing experts educate students on off-campus living

Students were informed of their rights and responsibilities as off-campus tenants at the Student Governnment Association-sponsored Landlord, Leases and Legalities event Monday at the Ferguson Center.

Students were able to submit questions related to the landlord-tenant law throughout the day, which were answered by four panelists, Vice President of Student Affairs Will Pylant said.

Of the four housing experts, Katie Thompson, an associate at Rosen Harwood, said students reading a lease thoroughly before signing is important.

“A lease is a contract and is therefore bound by law, making it very difficult to get out of,” Thompson said. “If you and your landlord reach an outside agreement, it needs to be in writing and signed if it’s not in the lease.”

Assistant Director of off-campus housing Julie Elmore further stressed the significance in understanding the different types of leases students may sign.

Most landlords use joint leases, where everyone who signs the lease is legally responsible for paying rent and damages, Elmore said. Very few use individual leases, where tenants sign and are responsible for the rent of their bedroom only.

“This is why it is important to discuss both you and your roommate’s budget before you sign,” Elmore said. “If someone doesn’t pay their share of the rent, everyone on the lease is legally responsible.”

Mike Kelley, director of Crimson Choice, said students’ education on the landlord-tenant law is vital to avoid future problems.

“It’s easier to get out of a marriage than a lease,” Kelley said. “The law only offers relief if certain terms of the lease are not met by the landlord or tenant.”

He explained that “slumlords,” landlords that have a bad reputation with helping tenants, do exist in Tuscaloosa and are only interested in getting students’ money. Crimson Choice is an online resource for students that inspect the functionality of 72 potential hazards, such as smoke detectors and locks, to improve the safety of these properties.

Owner of Rumsey Properties, Steven Rumsey said students wishing to live in the popular “box” area of campus enclosed by Jack Warner Parkway, 15th Street, Hackberry Lane and Queen City Avenue should prepare to sign a lease as early as mid-October.

The competition for off-campus housing happened as a result of former University President Robert Witt’s decision to increase student population by over 10,000 students, he said.

“There are only around 700 houses in the box, which means about 3,000 students can live there,” Rumsey said. “That means after on-campus dorms reach capacity, 20,000 students have to live off campus and outside of the box.”



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