Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2006

Students bring concerns to Capitol

August 12, 2006

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— Kansas University student leaders will fight for a tax break on textbooks and continue to seek for more rights for renters when the next legislative session starts in January.

"This is not only for students but for all renters," said Ian Staples, a senior from Lawrence.

Staples is the legislative director for the KU Student Senate, which means he will be spending some time proposing changes before the Legislature.

Last session, an attempt by the Student Senate to standardize cleanup charges of vacated rental property and increase disclosure on automatic renewal clauses failed.

The state Senate adopted the proposals sought by the students, but the House declined.

During the session, students were either praised by lawmakers for trying to work through the system or criticized as being childish.

But Staples said sometimes the charges that landlords assess for move-out cleaning costs are inflated.

The list of charges landlords often show tenants "provide a minimum charge, but there is no ceiling," Staples said.

One of the biggest complaints from students is when landlords use automatic renewal clauses in leases.

The clause automatically renews the lease if the renter doesn't notify the landlord by a specific date on whether they intend to move or stay. Oftentimes the clause is overlooked by renters, and there is no rule on when the renewal date can be set.

The students wanted to change the law so that the automatic renewal date could not be more than 90 days before the end of the existing lease.

"They should have the rights within their contract to choose what is best for them without being automatically renewed," Staples said.

Staples said he has met with landlords and apartment management representatives to see if there is compromise legislation that can be presented to lawmakers.

Another proposal that students will make is to exempt textbook purchases from sales taxes.

It is not uncommon for students to pay $300 to $500 per semester on textbooks, and exempting that from taxes would give students a break, Staples said.

He also said the Student Senate is exploring proposals to give military veterans more benefits when they return to school.

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