Today I found a column from the University of Minneapolis’ student paper The Minnesota Daily that brings up some good points.
The writer, Courtney Johnson, mentions issues that I notice are a problem in Morgantown, as well:
“One important thing to remember is to never feel rushed when preparing to sign a lease. A lot of times, due to limited availability of off-campus housing around the University, students feel pressured to sign something — anything — as soon as they can. However, while in a frenzy to sign, inexperienced renters might not be aware of all of the expectations placed by landlords.”
I’ve seen people looking at apartments as early as December for the next school year. Sometimes if a student hasn’t found something by late January, they think they’re not going to find anything decent.
More importantly, Johnson mentions this:
“… a law passed through the State of Minnesota legislature, effective Jan. 1, 2011, which states that landlords are not legally able to charge late fees in excess of 8 percent of the overdue rent payment. This new law prevents landlords from overcharging their tenants and is particularly helpful for the inexperienced renter.”
In many cases, the reason a person’s rent is late is because they don’t have the money. So by charging them more money that they don’t have, it’s only making things worse.
I’ve searched West Virginia’s state code for a law regarding late fees, but I didn’t find anything. It’s possible that I’ve overlooked it, but I’ve contacted someone who will know for sure. I’ll update when I hear back.
UPDATE 1/19/12: According to Brian Walker, who works with Commuter Student Programs/Off Campus Housing for West Virginia University’s Office of Student Life, currently “West Virginia does not have a cap on allowable late fees.”