Services for International Employees & Scholars

Renter's Rights

For an in-depth view of tenant rights and landlord responsibilities check the Kansas Legal Services handbook».

Bring your paperwork
When you are searching for housing, it is important to make a good first impression. When you go to look at a new place, take written references from landlords, employers, friends and colleagues, evidence of solid financial support, a resume with your name and contact information on it, and a brief cover letter describing yourself. If you are interested in the place, give a copy of these to the landlord in case they will be choosing from other interested people as well.

Review the lease
Carefully review all conditions before you sign the lease. Your lease or rental agreement may contain a provision that you find unacceptable – for example, restrictions on guests, pets, design alterations or running a home business. If you have questions, ask the landlord or someone in your department.

Get everything in writing
To avoid disputes or misunderstandings with your landlord, get everything in writing. Keep copies of all correspondence and follow up on oral agreements with a letter, setting out your understandings.  For example, if you ask your landlord to make repairs put your request in writing and keep a copy for yourself.

Protect your privacy rights
Understand your privacy rights (for example, the amount of notice your landlord must provide before entering), it will be easier to protect them.

Demand Repairs
Know your rights to live in a habitable rental unit, and do not give them up as indicated here. The vast majorities of landlords are required to offer their tenants livable premises, including adequate weatherproofing, heat, water, electricity and clean and structurally safe premises.  If your rental unit is not kept in good repair, you have a number of options, ranging from deducting the cost from your rent, to calling the building inspector (who may order the landlord to make repairs), to moving out without a liability.

Talk to your landlord
Keep communication open with your landlord.  If there is a problem – for example, if the landlord is slow to make repairs – talk it over to see if the issue can be resolved short of a nasty legal battle.

Purchase renters’ insurance
Your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your losses due to theft or damage. Renters’ insurance also covers you if you’re sued by someone who claims to have been injured in your rental due to your carelessness. Renters’ insurance typically costs $350 per year for a $50,000 policy that covers loss due to theft or damage caused by other people or natural disasters; if you do not need that much coverage, there are cheaper policies.

Protect your security deposit
To avoid any misunderstandings, make sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the use of refund of security deposits.  When you move in, walk through the premises with the landlord to record existing damage.

Fair Housing
The Lawrence Human Relations Commission» and Human Relations Division of the City of Lawrence is a civil rights enforcement agency. It investigates complaints from persons alleging they have been discriminated against in housing because of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity in addition to familial status in housing.

If you think you are a victim of housing discrimination, the city of Lawrence Fair Housing» website has good information on recognizing discrimination and what to do.

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