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Student housing rights may not be absolute

Many Americans spend their first years out of the house in a college dormitory or off-campus housing. North Carolina's fine higher education options attract many students to apartments owned by other people or institutions, and they should know the expectations of their tenancy in these homes.

When it comes to the quality of housing, students do not have to accept the unacceptable. Every lease comes with an implied warranty of habitability, meaning the owner or superintendent must maintain certain minimum standards in inhabited rooms or homes. Bug or rodent infestations, hot clean water and proper protections from the elements and the public are part of this warranty.

Every student has an equal right to housing regardless of gender, ethnicity or national origin according to the Federal Fair Housing Act. Some states and municipalities may guarantee other rights, which should also be considered while making a housing decision.

Privacy can be another matter. University housing may include the right of the university to enter a room for a variety of reason, like maintenance or a random search. These rights vary by campus, so students should review them before signing a tenancy agreement.

If a landlord or university official discovers possible evidence of a crime, the tenant may have had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This challenge could interfere with or lessen charges brought against someone as a result of this entry or search.

An attorney is always a guaranteed and valuable ally if a person is charged with a crime. Legal representation can increase your chances of dropped charges, an acquittal or reduced sentences.

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