Tenants win lawsuit against former landlord

Jamison Lamp

Jamison Lamp

Housing on and off campus poses many issues. Four SDSU students experienced first hand the hardships of moving off campus.

In a trial held on Dec. 16, 2008, the court required Landlord Kyle Prodoehl to pay back the security deposits that the tenants made.

The four tenants filed to receive their $250 security deposits back, $200 in damages and about $33 worth of filing fees. Tenants include senior nursing majors Ashley Hanson, Amanda Hough, Alaina Kulesa and senior sociology major Jennifer Rumpca.

“We did not get $200 or filling fees,” Hough said. “The court gave him 30 days to get our security deposits back.”

Prodoehl said that he did file a counter claim for over $1,600 in rent that was lost after the lease was terminated until the time it was rented.

Grounds for the lawsuit were inadequate living conditions, such as broken windows and exposed electrical wires all that were scheduled for repair.

“Windows were broke, electrical wires completely exposed and the basement was completely open to the outside,” Hough said.

“The lease said that the renovations should have been completed by May 15, but we weren’t able to move in until the 25 of May,” Rumpca said.

“These women leased a house that was going to be remodeled,” Prodoehl said. “I think they should have expected reasonable inconveniences. I was renting way below market value. It was a wet, cool spring which meant I couldn’t excavate around the house to replace some windows.”

The tenants said the situation they were put in caused inconvenience.

“We basically moved in got everything in place, and then moved out right away,” Kulesa said.

“We lived in the house for only about five days,” Hough said.

Prodoehl said he provided a trailer and secure storage for some of the time the girls were not able to move into the house.

After the experience, the tenants offered some advice to students looking for housing in the future.

“Landlords can be very intimidating,” Hough said. “Know what your rights are as a tenant.”

“Kelly Schmidt with legal aide was very helpful,” Hough said. “We visited two to three times. He knew where and what to do; we met with him before our court date.”

All tenants stressed the importance of documenting the issues present and getting things in writing.

“Pictures won our case,” Kulesa said.

These students also recommend doing some research before leasing an apartment or house.

Kulesa said that they kind of “jumped on” the lease because it was a house closer to campus, but now she realizes that living farther away from campus is not as big a deal as she thought.

“Don’t rush into leases, there are lots of places to rent; don’t get worried,” Rumpca said.

Prodoehl said that tenants need to understand that “what you see is what you get” when it comes to renting.

There are ways that students can protect themselves against unfortunate situations.

“We recommend talking with current tenants,” Andrew Walters, off-campus housing coordinator said. “We also recommend taking the lease to legal aide; it’s free.”

Changes to the house or lease need to be put in writing, and students can contact the legal aide with questions, Walters said.

The Off-Campus Housing Web site and coordinator can offer support.

Although they will not do a specific search, Walters said Off-Campus Housing officers do maintain a Web site with listings and will be holding an off-campus housing fair on Feb. 4.

“At the housing fair, the legal aide representative will be there, along with the city inspector,” Walters said. “There will be a variety of landlords; the big ones like Mills and Moriarty will be there.”

Off-campus housing can be reached through Information Exchange in The Union, by calling 688-6127, or http://studentaffairs.sdstate.edu/StudentUnion/och.htm. Legal aide appointments can be made through the Students’ Association office.