It's that time of year again for dumpster diving and "Hippie Christmas" as thousands of UW-Madison students change apartments. This annual ritual for college students is a good time for anyone who rents to re-familiarize themselves with tenant and landlord rights.
Moving can be difficult, and so can getting your security deposit back from the landlord. Whether you're moving out today or someday soon, you should know your rights as a tenant.
First, there's a Madison city ordinance that says all landlords need to take pictures of any damage for which you get charged. The landlord needs to tell you what he or she cleaned and provide receipts of how much it cost to fix.
But the Tenant Resource Center says you should always try to take your own pictures to avoid any mistakes or discrepancies between what you say was wrong with your apartment and what the landlord says. The TRC says when you're dealing with landlords, communication is key.
"If you talk with them and see if there are any concerns the landlord has, you can really save a lot on your security deposit later," said Brenda Konkel, executive director of TRC.
And if you're planning on snagging any cheap used furnishings left out on the sidewalk, Konkel wants to remind you of a few pesky little dangers: bedbugs and cockroaches.
"Before you pick something up off the curb," Konkel said, "you might want to think twice about it."
You can find more about your rights as a tenant by calling TRC at (608) 257-0143 or checking out the City of Madison's website.