A leaky faucet has been neglected for months. A security deposit was paid but never returned. A sub-leasing agreement fell apart and requires litigation.
All of these and more are problems that Student Legal Services deals with on a regular basis.
Dorothy Bernholz, Legal Services attorney, said that property repairs, security deposits and zoning laws are the most frequently addressed issues.
“The zoning laws in Chapel Hill do not permit more than four unrelated individuals to be in a house, even though the landlords are letting seven people move in,” said Bernholz.
“The town of Chapel Hill is enforcing that ordinance and just last week there was an order in which some students had to move out.”
This zoning law was created because families and adults who live in close proximity to UNC students recently began complaining about trash in yards, noise violations and unsightly parking, Bernholz said.
When dealing with repairs, Bernholz emphasized the importance of submitting a written request.
“You need to give written notice to the landlord about the need for repairs so you can prove later that you told them that the water was leaking or that you didn’t have heat,” she said.
Security deposits —precautionary fees paid to the landlord at the beginning of a lease — can also prove problematic.
“This is your money, and the landlord has to give it back to you at the end of the lease, absent normal wear and tear,” Bernholz said.