Helping UMD students avoid poor rental properties

Illustration by Karli Kruse

Illustration by Karli Kruse

Disclaimer: Clare Cade is a reporter for The Bark.

With the end of the semester just around the corner, many UMD students are beginning to think about where they’ll be living next school year. And while there may be a wide variety of options for students seeking off-campus housing, the quality of those rentals varies greatly.

Clare Cade, a second-year student at UMD, wishes her and her roommates had done more research prior to signing the lease at their Fourth St. residence.

“When we signed the lease for our house, we didn’t really know anything about the landlord,” said Cade.

Shortly after moving in, Cade’s mom sent her this article from the Duluth News Tribune. Cade and her roommates were shocked to find out that their landlord, Brian Deroche, had been charged with criminal vehicular homicide in connection to a drunken boating accident just one year earlier.

“At the beginning of the summer when we moved in, he was helping out around the house and stuff,” Cade said. “Then he stopped helping out and his wife started doing everything. We even started making the rent checks out to his wife.”

It was shortly after this that Cade and her roommates found out that Deroche had pled guilty and was sentenced to serve one year in jail.

“It’s important for students to look up their landlords before they sign a lease on a house,” said Cade.

She also recommends students talk to the previous tenants about the property, the landlord, and the property location.

Cade says they’ve had numerous other issues in the house, including poor installation and abnormally high heating bills, problems with both mice and squirrels, and maintenance requests that take far too long to be resolved.

“I told them about our door a month ago because it didn’t fit the frame properly and there was a huge draft coming in the bottom of it,” said Cade. “It just got fixed yesterday.”

In an effort to help students find quality housing, the UMD Student Association co-sponsored a survey by the U of M Student Senate, which allows U of M students to leave reviews about their rental properties.

The surveys address housing aspects such as overall quality, landlord responsiveness, parking space, and safety. Student reviews of landlords and property management companies can be found here.

NewsJustin Flesher