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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tenants' rights all about education

Last year, The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board wrote that it is best for tenants to know their rights when renting so landlords do not continue to rent properties without oversight. As we said, ""The onus is on the landlords to heed the concerns of students who are paying sizable amounts of money for a safe place to live."" Every year, rental companies in Madison get thousands of new tenants, many of whom have never seen a lease before, and landlords frequently take advantage of this.

Tenants can use the police to help deal with negligent landlords and other rental issues. Though this concept has not yet leaked into the collective subconscious of the student body, it still gives students some official muscle to help deal with the comfort and safety of their own homes. Police can write citations to landlords for certain property management violations dealing with issues like eviction and entering the premises.

But citations are rather ineffective litigating devices that can build up until the city has to get involved and file the paperwork required to fine renters. Ald. Bryon Eagon, District 8, recently proposed that police be given the ability to directly fine landlords who violate tenants' rights. Along with this, Eagon also proposed an increase in the fine amounts to help landlords understand the gravity of the situation.

Fines are the only way to get through to negligent landlords. Their thrifty behavior when dealing with tenants and properties is the reason for such measures to be taken in the first place. The bigger fines would give students some recourse so that they may look out for their own interests. And again, a lot of this has to do with the safety and comfort of tenants in Madison.

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Unfortunately, this amendment was voted down last Thursday during a Landlord and Tenant Issues subcommittee meeting, helping landlords to continue carrying their seemingly indifferent attitude to the plight of their often disgruntled tenants. In many ways, it seems the Madison Police Department did not want to be the enforcers of tenants' rights, even though it makes the most sense that they should be the ones to provide recourse for renters.

Since the MPD has wiped its hands clean of the situation and the landlords have asserted their voice and are still focused solely on profit, it is again the responsibility of students to make sure that they know how to monitor and enforce their rights. The first step to ensure both safety and a good rental experience is to get educated.

We call on the unversity to educate its student residents to go on and be responsible and knowledgeable tenants. The most inexperienced renters come straight from the residence halls and walk into the position all bright-eyed and credulous after the experiences of living in the residence halls. Until this pattern changes, landlords will continue to reap the benefits.


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