The Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs Committee and the University of Wisconsin Campus Area Housing will host a housing fair today in Varsity Hall at Union South, lasting from 3 until 6:30 p.m.
Prospective student residents should expect to see 25 Madison-area landlords, representatives from various UW student services and resources and workers from local tenant resource organizations, said ASM Legislative Affairs Committee Member Tristan Abbott in an email to The Badger Herald.
“Most UW-Madison [students] live in university-run housing for at most two years,” Abbott said. “It’s important to ensure that students interested in exploring housing outside of dorms have all the information they need to evaluate all of their options and make the best decision possible, and that’s what we hope the housing fair will accomplish.”
Abbott said ASM plans to distribute information about recent tenant rights legislation and provide student reviews of Madison landlords.
ASM Press Office Director David Gardner said the primary goals of holding the housing fair are to get students in contact with renters, communicate the rights students have when leasing buildings and answer any questions students may have about the renting process.
“ASM is meant to be an advocate for the student body and to make the student’s voice heard,” Gardner said. “The housing fair allows us to show students that there are provisions in place to protect their rights as tenants.”
Abbott said students will benefit from the housing fair in that they will be able to speak with representatives from university housing, members of various organizations that provide advice to tenants and landlords from Madison apartments.
Abbott said the ability to receive advice from multiple sources about housing is “far superior” to simply speaking with landlords who are just interested in getting students to sign a lease.
ASM plans to address the students’ concerns that surfaced as a result of their housing survey it sent out via email, according to Gardner. The survey was campuswide and requested students evaluate landlords, maintenance and current rental properties, he added.
Abbott said ASM has compiled the results of the survey into a handout it will distribute today at the fair.
“Prospective renters should always speak with tenants who have previously rented from the same landlord, but this isn’t always possible,” Abbott said. “We’re hoping the handout will provide useful information to students who are struggling to find tenant reviews of landlords.”
Abbott said students also have issues with finding housing because they are either overwhelmed or do not have enough information.
Many UW students who are new to the area have heard nothing about Madison landlords and do not know how to start their search for housing, Abbott added.
“Students are given and have to sift through an extraordinary amount of information from landlords, city officials and tenant resource organizations before signing a lease,” Abbott said. “For a first- or second-time renter, digesting all of that information is intimidating.”
Gardner and Abbott both said they agreed the housing fair is important for prospective student renters.