Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, June 18, 2018

Students start renters’ rights group, Web site

Many are not aware of protections

A group of students launched a class project, the Students for Renters’ Rights, at the end of March with a mission to educate students about their rights as tenants.

The project is for the class HNRS-302 The Politics of Human Rights, an honors colloquium that teaches the theoretical and legal foundations of human rights. The class challenges students to put theory into practice by managing a human rights campaign. The group is composed of seven students: Jon Baker, Ellie Ezzell, Jon Freimark, Brian Goodrich, Jennifer Kim, Aaron Luce and Quinn Pregliasco.

The Renter’s Bill of Rights

As a tenant in Washington, D.C. I have the right to ...
- sign a fair lease
- pay a fair security deposit
- live in a clean, safe and well-kept property
- enjoy the property and live with privacy
- inhabit the property until the lease expires
- not be discriminated against
- not be retaliated against
- seek legal action if my rights are violated

Legal services for tenants:
Landlord Tenant Resource Center
Phone: 202-508-1710
Address: 510 4th Street N.W., Court Building B, Room 115
Volunteer attorneys provide free legal information to both unrepresented landlords and tenants who have residential housing disputes in D.C.

D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program: Legal Information Help Line
Phone: 202-626-3499
Open 24/7
This information help line is an automated system of pre-recorded messages giving basic information in both English and Spanish on a number of legal topics, including finding an attorney and the availability of free legal services in D.C.

Tenant’s Advocacy Coalition: TENAC
Web site: www.tenac.org
Phone: 202-628-3688

D.C. Office of the Tenant Advocate: 202-719-6560

Information from the Students for Renters’ Rights Web site, rentersrights.community.officelive.com.

The group aims to educate AU students and others about “their rights as renters in Washington D.C.,” according to its Web site. They have published a “Renter’s Bill of Rights,” which outlines some basic tenants’ rights. These rights include the right to sign a fair lease, the right to negotiate a fair rent and the right not to be discriminated or retaliated against.

Students for Renters’ Rights hopes to get 500 students to sign its bill of rights. A week and a half into the campaign, they already had about 150 signatures, according to Goodrich and Pregliasco, who are juniors in the School of Public Affairs.

Students for Renters’ Rights will also cooperate with Housing and Dining Programs in compiling a resource guide for students living off campus. The group is in the process of writing a portion of the guide. They hope that the guide will have a lasting effect on the student body, according to Goodrich and Pregliasco.

“A lot of students don’t know what their rights are,” Pregliasco said.

Students for Renters’ Rights posted a survey that tests students’ knowledge of tenants’ rights. The scores were “really shocking,” according to Goodrich. The average score is a 55 out of 100 points.

“I didn’t even get a perfect score when I took the survey,” Goodrich said.

In 2008, The New York Times reported that the Student Housing Association, a D.C.-area property management company, was cited for a number of housing violations against AU students, including habitually ignoring tenant complaints and renting apartments without a license.

To help clarify tenants’ rights, Students for Renters’ Rights has posted a number of resources on its Web site. These resources include a guide to tenant-landlord laws, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ housing regulations and overviews on different types of housing discrimination. The Web site also provides links to other renters’ advocates and government agencies charged with protecting tenants’ rights.

Students for Renters’ Rights will be tabling in the Mary Graydon Center on Friday afternoon.

You can reach this writer at news@theeagleonline.com.


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