In Your Corner: The Power of an Apartment Lease

By Ryan Elijah

July 8, 2010 Updated Jul 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM EDT

While Fort Wayne has won honors for the city's apartment community, with so many units there are bound to be issues from renters who feel the lease isn't being followed.

Shayna Johnson needed a less expensive home for her family, so she decided on apartments off of South Anthony.

Shayna Johnson "I signed the lease, gave the deposit and when I got in, it needed a lot of work"

Two weeks after the apartment was supposed to be ready, Shayna took pictures of a unit that wasn't ready for an occupant. She told the management she wouldn't be moving in, but the her deposit and 1st month's rent totaling $675 hasn't been returned. The property has a new manager since Shayna signed her lease and the woman told us she would look into the situation and come up with a resolution.

Rose Newman-Clevenger is the President of the Apartment Association of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana, she told us renters need to be aware that they're signing a legally binding contract.

"our biggest problem is when residents want to back out of a lease, it's a legally binding contract"

The apartment association is a non-profit organization that along with publishing the "apartment guide" also represents owners, managers and maintenance personnel. Their members represent over 22-thousand units. They say it's very important to choose your landlord carefully and approach them early if you have serious issues such as mold. Rose Newman Clevenger said it's rare that disputes go to court, when they do, they often involve evictions.
As for Shayna, she's hoping to get her money back, and has learned some lessons in the process.

Shayna Johnson "I would certainly look at the unit ahead of time, before signing the lease"

Along with choosing an apartment and landlord carefully, renters also need to remember the power of the lease, and that it's a 2-way street in terms of taking care of the unit. While mold is a difficult issue to deal with, landlords tell us they've seen many cases where the tenant's actions are causing a mold problem.

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