The Tenant Union provides educational resource, housing mediator for students

Given that looking for housing can be a stressful and risky process, the Tenant Union equips students with the proper tools to help them pick the right apartment or house.

Christopher Boidy, senior in LAS, has been a housing counselor at the Union since early May. He said the Tenant Union provides various services, such as lease reviews and   housing search advice.

“We do lease reviews so students can bring a copy of their lease, and we can go over it with them line by line, clause by clause, and explain everything they need to know before they sign their lease,” Boidy said. “We don’t provide legal advice because we’re not attorneys, but what we can do is make sure students don’t fall into traps in the complicated language of the lease.”

According to Boidy, landlords sometimes break lease agreements or the law and put in clauses in the lease that might not be legally enforceable. The Tenant Union’s job is to help students know their rights and that of the landlord’s.

“We are tenant advocates,” Boidy said.

The Tenant Union provides lists of realtors in the area and has records of landlord complaints. Although they do not do housing searches for students, the Tenant Union can help students prioritize what is important to them when looking for a home, pointing them in the right direction.

Crystal Ramirez, junior in LAS, said she went to the Tenant Union during her freshman year to find an apartment. Employees provided Ramirez with information on various real estate agents and helped her search for places within her price range and desired location.

“I ended up picking housing that they helped me find,“ she said.

The Tenant Union also helps students who have problems with their landlords and sometimes make calls on behalf of students for major conflicts. They help settle issues between tenants and landlords as much as possible before the issue needs to be referred to student legal services.

Amna Owais, senior in Business, said she went to the Tenant Union last year when her apartment was infested with cockroaches. Although the Tenant Union was unable to help her find a new apartment, she still recommended that students go to the Tenant Union to review their lease agreements.

“We try to resolve issues before the point of having to send a student to legal services because we understand that process is very long and time consuming,” Boidy said.

For students starting their housing search, Boidy said that while a home may seem great on the surface, students should look into the lease and realtors.

“It’s worth considering not just the property itself, but also the landlord,” Boidy said. “The majority of landlords in the area have an average number of complaints that is less than one, most have zero, but the maximum number of complaints we have on file right now is 36.”

The 36 complaints on file come from both Campus Property Management and The University Group, according to the Tenant Union.

Boidy said that although students do find sufficient housing without the Tenant Union’s help, there is an added benefit to visiting to them.

“It’s not to say that students who don’t use us don’t get good housing, but we are by and large an educational resource,” Boidy said. “If a student wishes to go in armed with the most knowledge they can have before signing onto a lease or searching for housing, they should come here.”

Saher can be reached at [email protected]