UISG and Student Legal Services release second annual Renter’s Guide

For the second year in a row, UISG and Student Legal Services are releasing a Renter’s Guide that provides students with raw data about Iowa City landlord companies and assistance for the peak lease signing months.


Photo Illustration by Katie Goodale

Hannah Rovner, News Reporter

As many students prepare to sign leases for the 2020-21 academic year, University of Iowa Student Government will soon release its second Renter’s Guide, which is filled with experiences from tenants with the various landlords around Iowa City.

UISG hopes to aid students for the second year in a row with the Renter’s Guide by providing raw data and numbers to share with students the experiences of prior tenants at various housing locations in the area.

“In [the Renter’s Guide], we will show you the stuff a landlord website doesn’t, such as if they company will show you a model unit or not or if the unit is clean at move-in since most students move every year,” UISG City Liaison Austin Wu said.

Wu and UISG Deputy City Liaison Charlotte Lenkaitis said they want the new updated guide to be student-driven, because rental-property websites are more subjective and opinion-based, only showing landlords in their best light. 

“The Renter’s Guide is extremely beneficial,” Lenkaitis said. “It allows students to protect themselves before signing a lease.”

As reported previously by The Daily Iowan, UISG reported in 2018 that 51 percent of survey respondents signed their lease by November of the year before their move-in date. 

RELATED: UISG releases Renter’s Guide

UI Student Legal Services also helps with student-tenant relationships. The department’s director Amanda Elkins said that one of many things her office aids in is the review of leases with students, so they understand the agreement which they are entering. In fiscal 2019, Elkins said Student Legal Services held 60 of such review appointments. 

Student Legal Services also saw 370 tenant-landlord appointments in fiscal 2019 and five tenant-landlord small claims, or a reported disagreement between landlords and students, Elkins said. 

In addition, Student Legal Services provides assistance to students facing eviction, getting their security deposits back, advising if it’s appropriate to file a claim, and more. 

“We also help with any general renting or leasing questions students have, no matter how big or small,” Elkins said.

To limit the number of small claims, Wu said Student Legal Services will hold an event on Oct. 3 called “Renting 101.”

“[UISG] is aiming to distribute the guide ahead of the big lease signing period that occurs in October and November,” Wu said.

Lenkaitis will spearhead the project next year for UISG’s third Renter’s Guide. She said her goal as the years progress is to decrease the number of renting problems students face and bring the change they want to see to landlords’ attention.

UISG will send the Renter’s Guide to the City of Iowa City so it is in the public record under correspondence, Wu said. The organization will also take into account requests by community members for additions to the guide, he added.

While last year’s guide shows the percentage of income spent on rent, this year’s will show which buildings tenants pay for the most out-of-pocket, Wu said. That’s compared with newer buildings with lower percentages, he said, because many students receive outside assistance for rental income.

Wu said he anticipates that the Renter’s Guide will be available for distribution via email, social media, and the internet this week.