If you’re a new renter, here are a few things to keep in mind

Renters Together MHK is one of the resources available to renters in Manhattan who have questions. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Whether you’re new to renting in Manhattan or you’re signing a lease for a new place this year, here are a few things to remember.

1. Document existing damage.

To ensure your security deposit is returned to you and you are not charged for damage you did not cause, the Kansas State University Office of Student Life’s Off-Campus Housing Support recommends tenants document damage to the unit when they move in. Take photos with clear time and date stamps on them.

Additionally, write down detailed descriptions of damages. Keep a copy of this for yourself and give it to your landlord as well.

2. Know your rights.

Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. keeps a PDF version of the Kansas Tenants Handbook on its website. It includes links to documents detailing the responsibilities of the landlord, like keeping the residence up to state code, maintaining ventilation and electrical systems and have waste disposal services available.

“Students should also keep in mind their rights as renters, because several landlords around town will exploit that student renters don’t know their rights,” said Jonathan Cole, lead organizer for Renters Together MHK and senior in mechanical engineering.

Cole said it’s important to document every interaction with your landlord if things turn sour. This includes texts and emails.

3. Get involved with local groups.

City commissioner Jerred McKee said he encourages tenants unfamiliar with their rights or stuck in a tight situation to reach out to a local group for renters advocacy.

“There’s some really great organizations in Manhattan that are popping up … and they hold a lot of different workshops,” McKee said.

One group in particular, McKee said, is Renters Together MHK. They meet every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Manhattan, which is located at 612 Poyntz Ave.

“A lot of this is really confusing,” McKee said. “You have to build community to find access to these resources.”

4. Request an inspection if needed.

“One of the most important things that students don’t know that they should know is they have the right to call a code inspection,” McKee said.

Despite what your landlord might say, tenants can request an inspection through the city at any point. The Code Services office will inspect a unit to ensure it is in compliance with minimum property maintenance standards and in compliance with city code.

To submit a request for an inspection, complete the form on the city of Manhattan website or call 785-587-4506.

“If they find any violations, the landlord can’t charge you for that violation,” McKee said.

5. Keep a budget.

Rentals in Manhattan can cost any amount of money depending on variables like number of roommates and rental location.

But rent isn’t the only expense to consider when moving off-campus. Off-Campus Housing Support reminds students that they will be responsible for paying rent, utilities and deposits.

Powercat Financial offers a few resources to help students design and maintain a budget. They also have documents to help students plan how they spend their money. Reserve an appointment on their website.

If you have concerns about your rental situation or want to get involved with Renters Together MHK, visit their Facebook page for more information.

“Telling your story and standing together collectively will help change the renting culture here in Manhattan,” Cole said.

To make an appointment with Off-Campus Housing Support, call 785-532-6432 or email ochsupport@k-state.edu. For additional resources, check out their website.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.