Students at the University of Minnesota will soon have access to a list identifying landlords who violate housing policies, along with other resources to protect them from landlord mistreatment.
In late November, MSA plans to launch a landlord accountability campaign that educates students on housing issues, increases awareness of troublesome landlords and features an eventual state-level legislation push.
“Last spring, this was a top issue on our platform. It's something almost every single student can relate to, especially considering that the vast majority of students live off campus,” said Trish Palermo, the University’s student body president.
The campaign will promote existing resources offered by University Student Legal Services and Off-Campus Living, such as free legal assistance to students who pay the student service fee.
MSA will distribute a list of common myths about leasing and a list of landlords who have repeatedly violated student rights compiled by USLS and Off-Campus Living.
The website will be promoted by an informational video outlining problems students often face.
Landlord issues comprise around one third of cases reviewed by USLS. The office hopes that the increased availability of resources will decrease future cases, said Hunter Pederson, student chair of USLS.
“I’m really excited that USLS and MSA are working together on this because this is one of the issue areas where we have a ton of overlap and a lot of common interest,” Pederson said.
In addition to the accountability campaign, MSA is also working with Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, to make changes at the state level.
“Students recognize that there's only so much that the University themselves can do,” Palermo said.
Omar drafted legislation to address three main goals identified by MSA: short-end leases, limiting mandatory arbitration clauses and requiring leases to be unit-specific.
These goals seek to protect students from signing confusing leases and getting trapped in restrictive housing situations.
Omar is currently looking for co-sponsors for the bill and plans to bring it to the Legislature in the spring, Palermo said.
The list will be available on the Off-Campus Living website later this fall, said Kendre Turonie, program director of Off-Campus Living, at an MSA forum meeting on Oct. 10.