• Inspecting the Property

    Never sign a lease for a space you have not yet seen personally. It is essential that you visit your potential home before you make any decisions.

    Take adequate time to inspect the property during your visit. There are several things to look for in a suitable space including:

    • Has the inside and the outside of the property been well cared for? Does there appear to be any damage?

    • How clean is the property?

    • Does the water run properly? Make sure to turn on the faucets, flush the toilet, inspect the shower heads, and look under the sink for leaks.

    • Take note of the appliances in the space. Are there any issues with any of them?

    • Be sure to check each window in the space. Are any of them broken? Do they open properly? Are there screens on the windows?

    • Look for the smoke detectors and test them. Are they in working condition?

    • Are the locks on the doors adequate and functional? Can the bedroom doors be locked with a key? If sharing a space with multiple roommates, it may be beneficial to be able to lock your personal belongings when you are away. Please note, per the fire and safety inspectors, bedroom doors are not allowed to be locked from the outside with a key for safety reasons.  A landlord will be cited for this and be instructed to remove the lock.

    • Check the condition of the ceilings and walls. Are there any significant cracks that may cause future problems? Are there any water stains which show signs of previous plumbing issues?

    • Test the electricity to be sure everything is in working condition.

    • Find out what heat source is available to you. How is the insulation in the house? If it is poor, heating may be quite expensive.

    • How will you do your laundry? Are there facilities nearby?

    Ask if there is a caretaker responsible for repairs and upkeep of the property.

    Be sure any potential roommates visit the property as well. Ask them to look for any potential issues.

    Ask for the contact details of the manager and owner of the property. It is your legal right to be given the address and phone number of the individual/s responsible for renting the property to you. This information should be posted at the property and specified in the lease.

    Don’t be rushed or pressured to accept a space you are not comfortable with. Take at least 24 hours to decide how you feel about the property and if you could really see yourself making the space your own. Remember, as a student, you could potentially become an easy target and could be easily taken advantage of.

    It is a good idea to try to contact the individuals currently renting the space or who have rented from the property manager in the past. They may be able to provide you with valuable insight.

    You may also be able to find out if the landlord or property manager has been a party in any lawsuits. This can be done by checking with the county Conciliation Court or Housing Court. Use the online resource for Ramsey County at www.co.ramsey.mn.us.

    Reasons Not to Rent a Property

    There is no rental/lodging license posted at the property.

    You would be staying in a room with a ceiling that is not at least 7 feet high.

    Smoke detectors are not present within 15 feet of each bedroom in the space.

    There will be three or more roommates who are not related living in one dwelling.

    The room you will occupy is not at least 7 feet across.

    The room you will occupy is located in a third floor attic space and does not have two staircases leading to the ground level.

    The room you will sleep in is without a window or door which leads directly outside.

    There will be more than four individuals sleeping in the same room, regardless of how large the room is.

    If you feel there has been a code violation, you need to contact the city in which the property is located. If your dwelling is cited for violation of the city code, your landlord will have about 15 to 30 days to comply with the order.