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Legal Aid Director explains rights and responsibilities as a renter

take a look over your lease, get it as early as you can and inspect it.
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 8:38 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - There’s nothing like moving out of your parents’ home into your first place and although you don’t have to follow their rules, there are some expectations and tips you should know while renting out a new pad.

“We see a lot of people who do a couple of things wrong. First, they will move into a place without ever having looked at it,” Jason Auer with Legal Aid of Arkansas, said.

Auer is the Fair Housing Project Director for the non-profit organization. He says number one, “do your research, shop around, read reviews and look at a few places.”

Once finding a good match, be sure to physically visit the property. He adds while model units can be great, they can sometimes differ from the apartment you will be moving into.

Next up, take a look over your lease, get it as early as you can and inspect it.

“Make sure you read the lease and you are familiar with the terms of the lease. If you don’t understand something, get it reviewed by an attorney because once you sign it, rather you understood it or not you will be bound by the terms of the contract between you as a tenant and the landlord,” Auer said.

Auer says a good rule of thumb is to take pictures and communicate damage in writing, before the move in, during the stay, but more importantly when you move out.

He says if you’re expecting a security deposit back, the landlord has 60 days to send you the deposit, on the terms that there were no damages.

However, if there were, in that same timeframe, the landlord must provide an itemized list of how the money was spent to fix damages or they could be held liable for up to double the security deposit.

And, lastly, his biggest no-no for renters is to never hold your rent to force repairs.

“Tenants are under the misconception that they can withhold rent to force the landlord to make repairs, that is not a thing in Arkansas. If tenants do withhold rent, they can be evicted for nonpayment of rent.

And we have all that information and tips for you online.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says it’s also important to ask the landlord what’s expectant of them.

“If you do have issues that arise later on that leads to a disagreement, give us a call,” Rutledge said. “We have an entire link and information to help renters and to make sure that those of you renting an apartment, condos or houses making sure your rights are taken care of.”

For assistance, you can contact her office at (800) 482-8982 or visit her website, here.

You can also give Legal Aid’s Fair Housing helpline a call at 1-870-338-9834.

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