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CenturyLink & Mediacom - Internet & Cable

About CenturyLink

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is the second largest U.S. communications provider to global enterprise customers. With customers in more than 60 countries and an intense focus on the customer experience, CenturyLink strives to be the world’s best networking company by solving customers’ increased demand for reliable and secure connections. The company also serves as its customers’ trusted partner, helping them manage increased network and IT complexity and providing managed network and cyber security solutions that help protect their business.

For more information about their services, please visit the CenturyLink website

About Mediacom

Since 1996, Mediacom has invested billions of dollars in a fiber-optic infrastructure to connect America’s smaller cities and towns. And now, Mediacom is in the midst of a 3 year, $1 billion capital reinvestment project that will bring the communities they serve Gigabit internet speeds and community Wi-Fi, will expand their footprint so that more small businesses can access broadband services, and will build out our fiber-optic network to provide companies fiber solutions to increase productivity and compete more efficiently. Mediacom is committed to bridging the digital divide between major cities and America’s smaller regions by providing the best technology available.

For more information about their services, please visit the Mediacom website.  

Moving In Checklist

Both before and as you move in to your new apartment, there are several important things you should do to protect your rights later on.

Fill out a Move-In Checklist and take pictures

  • You should walk through the entire unit before moving your furniture in, and document any and all damages/problems that you see. It is to your benefit to fill out the Move-In Checklist (PDF Document), make a copy for your records, and provide a copy to your landlord within the first 7 days of the lease term. KEEP A COPY FOR YOUR RECORDS!
  • Take photographs/video of the unit making sure to turn on the date stamp function on your camera. Look for anything that could possibly be described as less than perfectly new and take a picture of it. Then save the photos in-case you need to use them in court.

Utilities

  • Your lease determines your responsibilities for utility activation and payment. Many landlords will pay for the water, but you are usually responsible for all other utilities; gas, electric, telephone, cable, internet, cell phone, etc. Contact the utility companies at least 2 weeks in advance of the move in date.
  • When doing your budget, you not only have to consider your rent each month, but also utility costs on top of that. Generally speaking, the cost of utilities may be the greatest when living alone. If you are sharing an apartment/house, you are also able to share the cost of utility bills. You should spell out how you will share your utility bills in your roommate contract.
  • Utility costs greatly vary. If you are living in an apartment complex versus an older home, the quality of insulation can be quite different. Houses tend to be a larger area of space to heat/cool.
  • Ask tenants that currently live in the apartment complex/house how much they pay for their utility bills on average. Gas, electric and water can vary based on usage. You can call the cable, internet and phone companies to get price quotes for the various packages they offer.

Purchase Renter's Insurance

Get renter’s insurance. Your lease may require you to have Renter’s insurance. Landlords typically have property insurance, but this does not cover your personal property. You want to make sure to have insurance to replace your belongings if they are damaged in a fire or stolen from your apartment, for example.

It tends to be cheaper to add a policy to the same company as your car insurance.. You may also be added to your parent's home owner's insurance (check with their company's policy for details). If either is not an option, it is still inexpensive to purchase renters insurance.

Miscellaneous

City of Iowa City - Water

About Water Services

The City of Iowa City provides residents with water and sewer services as well as curbside garbage, yard waste and recycling for residents living in housing of four units or fewer.   

To start or stop these services, sign-up online or with the Revenue Division located at City Hall, 410 E. Washington Street. The Revenue Division collects utility payments and parking fines, and also sells yard waste stickers and bus passes. 

To find out more information about water services, visit the Iowa City website.

Maintenance & Utilities

MidAmerican Energy - Electricity & Gas

About MidAmerican Energy

MidAmerican Energy provides service to 760,000 electric customers and 742,000 natural gas customers in a 10,600-square mile area in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and Nebraska. MidAmerican Energy is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

For more information about MidAmerican's services or account information, visit the website

Maintenance & Utilities

Rental Deposits

You probably already know what you should do to get your rental deposit back after your lease ends. It's a good idea to take date-stamped pictures of any existing damage when you move in, clean up thoroughly before you leave, and leave the landlord an address or instructions for where to send the returned rental deposit.  However, there are other things you should know about your rental deposit. 

In Iowa, Chapter 562A of the Iowa Code is the relevant law in landlord-tenant issues.  It's known as the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act.  You can find the full text of it here: http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/iowa/ia-code/iowa_code_chapter_562a

Rental deposits are discussed in Section 562A.12, available here: http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/iowa/ia-code/iowa_code_562a-12

You can read 562A.12 for a full understanding of the laws covering rental deposits.  Otherwise, the summary below covers the main issues.

Amount of deposit

A landlord cannot demand a rental deposit larger than two months' rent [562A.12(1)].

Return of the deposit

A landlord must return the remaining deposit to you within 30 days of the end of the lease, as long as the landlord has a mailing address or return instructions from you.  The landlord must include a written note detailing the specific amounts and reasons for any deductions made.  If the deposit is withheld to repair the property, the statement must specify the nature of the damages [562A.12(3)(a)].

If a landlord fails to return the deposit and a written statement detailing the deductions within 30 days of the end of the lease and receiving a mailing address, a tenant can recover the entire rental deposit from the landlord [562A.12(4)].  Tenants can do this by filing in small claims court, and tenants can recover the cost of filing a claim in small claims court ($85) if the judge sides with the tenant and orders the return of the deposit [562A.12(8)].  Note: even if a tenant recovers the entire deposit, the landlord can still bill the tenant for damages and other deductions that would have been taken from the deposit. 

If the landlord is not given a mailing address or return instructions for the deposit within one year of the end of the lease, the tenant will have forfeited their right to the deposit and the landlord can keep the entire amount [562A.12(4)] 

Reasons a landlord may deduct from the deposit

A landlord may make deductions from the deposit for a few reasons.  The rental deposit can be used to remedy a tenant's failure to pay rent or other costs like utilities [562A.12(3)(a)(1)].  The landlord can use the deposit to recover expenses incurred in forcing a tenant to surrender the premises at the end of a lease [562A.12(3)(a)(3)].  Most likely, the deposit will be used to restore the property to its condition at the beginning of the lease, excluding ordinary wear and tear [562A.12(3)(a)(2)].  This means the landlord can withhold the deposit if you damage the property, but not if the damage was a result of the normal and ordinary use of the premises.  For example, it's legal for your landlord to charge you for carpet cleaning to remove stains from pets or spilled drinks. It's not legal for your landlord to force you to pay for professional carpet cleaning for just normal wear on the carpet. In fact, the recent case of DeStefano v Apartments Downtown decided that automatic carpet cleaning lease agreements are unenforceable.  

In a case concerning the rental deposit, the landlord has to prove the reasons for withholding the deposit [562A.12(3)(b)].  If the landlord retains portions of the deposit in bad faith, the landlord will be subject to potential punitive damages amounting to no more than two months’ rent in addition to actual damages [562A.12(7)].  This means if the landlord knew the deduction was illegal, the tenant can recover the deduction AND up to two months' rent as a legal punishment to the landlord.   

If you think your landlord will violate the law in using or returning your deposit, tell your landlord about it in writing and feel free to cite this article or 562A.12.  By informing your landlord about the law, it will make it more likely that a judge would rule the landlord acted in bad faith.  Plus, it might help you avoid going to court in the first place by negotiating with your landlord instead. 

Remember, this is just a basic explanation of the Rental Deposits section of the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act.  If you have any questions about this entry, or are worried your lease/landlord may be in violation of the Act, contact Student Legal Services!

Resources for Moving Out

Tips For Finding An Apartment

General Tips For Finding An Apartment

Start Looking Early: The process for finding apartments starts early. The following are possible resources for finding available properties:

  1. Local Newspapers
  2. University of Iowa Off Campus Housing Listing website. 
  3. Friends or classmates are often aware of possible vacancies.
  4. Bulletin boards in laundromats, etc., may have rental postings.
  5. Websites such as www.craigslist.com and www.facebook.com. However, DO NOT rent or agree to rent a property without seeing it first.

Precautions to keep in mind: NEVER RENT A LIVING UNIT WITHOUT FIRST TOURING THE EXACT UNIT YOU WILL BE RENTING. The amount of rent and other provisions in the lease, as well as the physical condition of the unit are key factors in determining whether to sign a lease. Before you even start looking, you should determine what your housing budget will be and stick to that amount . You do not want to get into a situation where you cannot afford your rent. Be aware of the length of the lease agreement you are signing. Most landlords offer a lease for a full year; in the Iowa City area they typically begin on August 1 and end starting late July. 

When your are looking for an apartment, you should also investigate the reputation of the landlord and manager concerning maintenance, return of security deposits and genera relationships with tenants. Look at the locks on the doors and windows, and the lighting around the apartment to evaluate the security of the apartment against theft. Consider the quality and the age of the construction and insulation as it will affect the cost of heating and cooling: Iowa City generally has hot summers and cold winters. Current and former tenants are good sources of information, as are neighbors. Ask lots of questions when looking at the property, find out what the average utilities are, and go visit the property at night to see if you feel safe in the neighborhood and if the area around the property is well lit. Check out "rate your landlord" websites: www.apartmentratings.com, www.apartmentreviews.com, and www.ratemyapartment.com.

Finally, before you sign a lease, Consider Signing a Roommate Contract

It is extremely important that you and your roommates are clear on your expectations. It is beneficial to all tenants to spell out your individual responsibilities in a roommate contract. By providing written documentation of each roommates responsibilities to each other, a roommate contract can help avoid disputes later on and help ensure that all roommates contribute equally to household tasks and cleaning of the apartment. Fill out your own roommate contract.

Miscellaneous

Things to Know Before You Sign a Lease

Things to Know Before You Sign a Lease

So you're moving out of the dorms? When making the decision to rent off-campus, one the most important factors to consider is your lease agreement. A lease agreement is a binding contract governing the terms of your residence in the rental property. Notably, these are very difficult to terminate. Private landlords are much less likely to be accommodating to unforeseen situations than University Housing would be.

Lease Agreements

A lease agreement is a binding contract which is very difficult to terminate. Once you sign a lease, you are responsible for the entire monthly rent for the term of the lease. This means that you may have to pay rent for a roommate if that person moves out!

You can have the lease reviewed by Student Legal Services prior to signing.

Tips For Finding Rental Property

Does it comply with the city code? You should first check to see if the rental unit has a valid permit, as well as the maximum occupancy limit. If a unit does not have a valid permit, it is probably due to a health or safety violation. You also want to make sure that only the number of people allowed to live in the unit are on the lease. DO NOT LET LANDLORDS TALK YOU INTO UNAUTHORIZED ROOMMATES AND THEN NOT INCLUDE THEIR NAMES ON THE LEASE.

Permit & Occupancy Information

Iowa City Housing Authority

Look Early

Apartments in Iowa City go fast. The following are good resources for finding available properties and roommates:

  • Rentals, roommates, sublets, furniture, etc.: University of Iowa Off Campus Housing:
  • Websites such as www.craigslist.com and Facebook.
  • Local Newspapers.
  • Bulletin boards postings in grocery stores, laundromats, etc.
  • Friends are often aware of possible vacancies.

Real Cost Of Renting

In addition to the rent, you should account for these additional costs:

  • Gas/electric/water: Contact the utility companies to get the average bill/month
  • Security Deposit (1st & last month’s rent) and Application Fees.
  • Moving expenses
  • Rental insurance
  • Parking
  • Cable T.V./Internet
  • Purchase of furniture, other items
  • Bus stops nearby?
  • Is there adequate security?

Try to talk to the current tenants without the landlord to find out more about the rental unit, utility costs, and reliability of the landlord.

Check out "rate your landlord" websites:

www.apartmentratings.com

www.apartmentreviews.com

www.ratemyapartments.com

WARNING: NEVER RENT A RENTAL UNIT WITHOUT FIRST LOOKING AT THE EXACT UNIT YOU WILL BE RENTING. Some landlords will show a "model" unit which will be in a much better condition than the unit you will actually be renting. Make sure that the address of the unit you are shown is what is shown on the lease agreement.

Miscellaneous

Bike Safety & Maintenance

Bike Safety:

Bicycle riders should follow the rules of the road along with motor vehicles. Adhering to the laws protects you and other motorists. Remember these tips for everyone’s safety:

  • Wear a bicycle helmet
  • Respect the pedestrian right of way
  • Anticipate conflict
  • Follow the traffic laws
  • Share the road and walkways

To find more information on biking, including regulations and registration, click here

Bike Maintenance: 

University Parking and Transportation has installed several bicycle repair stations and air pumps on the main campus.  These stations and pumps are free to use and provide tools necessary to perform basic repairs and maintenance; from changing a flat tire to adjusting brakes.  For help with repairs use the Quick Read (QR) code on the front of the Repair Station to view detailed instructions on your smart phone. 

Locations can be found here.  

Maintenance & Utilities Resources for Living Off-Campus

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