Rent Smart Ames helps to educate students

Molly Willson

Before signing a lease for next school year, the Government of Student Body wants students to know what they are truly signing up for.

GSB senators handed out free water and pop Dec. 2 in the Memorial Union to inform students of the new Rent Smart Ames initiative. In conjunction with the city of Ames, GSB has created a website to help student tenants and city landlords find common ground on renting issues.

“Today is GSB’s initiative to promote the website to students,” said Zach Bauer, GSB member, city of Ames intern and creator of the website.

The website has a variety of features, including a listing of rental units available in Ames, a complete guide from beginning the search for an apartment to moving out, rights and responsibilities of landlords and a list of links to help with any problems that may arise during tenancy.

Tenants can fill out a search form to refine a specific desired living arrangement, for example, a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment with a $500 to $750 rent range.

“[The website] takes [renters] from the moment they decide to leave campus to the return of the security deposit when they move out, then everything in between,” Bauer said. “It tells them what to look for in a place, what places are available, what their lease should have and what their rights and responsibilities are. Pretty much any question they should have, they can find it on the Rent Smart Ames website.”

The idea for the project came about at last year’s joint City Council and GSB meeting. This year, Bauer and Melissa Mundt, assistant city manager, presented the website at the annual joint meeting.

“At this stage, we are really just trying to get more landlords aware that they can list their properties and also let tenants or prospective tenants know that they can utilize the website if they have questions about what their lease should have, if they have questions about move in and that sort of thing,” Bauer said.

The project began as a way to help answer questions students and new residents of Ames have about renting in general and how they can find somewhere to live in the Ames community.

“Being a renter myself, I knew the questions I had, and through GSB, I had a really good opportunity to engage students to see what kind of problems they found with their renting or student legal services to see what issues students came to them with,” Bauer said.

The new website is free and available to all users, student or tenant.

“Landlords can list their properties for free. Tenants can even list their sublets for the summer or if they’re going to be gone for a semester, they can list their properties on there, too,” Bauer said.

This is the first step in informing students on the website and the GSB plans to promote to the city of Ames as well.