OP-ED: Bowling Green lacks rights for renters

Jay Todd Richey

Jay Todd Richey

Your power as a renter is eclipsed by that of your landlords and, unfortunately, we live in a country where money tends to equal power, and Bowling Green is no exception.

If you are a renter in this city, your rights are contingent on the lease you signed. Essentially, the lease is the law. If your lease doesn’t protect you, neither does the law. For that reason, thousands of students, immigrants, refugees and low-income families are exploited by slumlords every day in Bowling Green.

But why would a landlord do this to their tenant? Surely they must be justified in collecting rent on time. Most landlords do treat their renters just fine, but a slumlord’s goal is to make a profit off of the exploitation of those who tend to be poor and nonwhite.

The majority of the Bowling Green population — including  WKU students — rents and is at risk of exploitation. Luckily, there’s a state law that would go a long way toward solving this problem for good. 

The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA) was passed in 1984 and establishes a basic set of rights and duties for both landlords and tenants. The catch? It’s optional for every city or county and Bowling Green hasn’t budged. That’s where the WKU Student Coalition for Renters’ Rights comes in.

Our mission is simple: we educate and advocate for renters’ rights. We already have a bill in Frankfort that would make URLTA mandatory across the state, and until that passes, we are going to keep pushing our local officials to prioritize renters’ rights — and we’ll need all the help we can get.

I wish we lived in a city where anyone could have a safe place to call home. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers prefer to stand up for the profit margins of powerful slumlords instead of the lives and well-being of their constituents. 

To learn more please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/wkuscrr.

Jay Todd Richey, SGA President