Rent Smart Train-the-Trainer available this summer!

Rent Smart program sets the stage for renters’ success

UW-Extension educational initiative helps new and high-risk tenants navigate rental process

More and more Americans are choosing to live in rental units, rather than buy their own home. For people new to renting or for those considered high-risk tenants, finding and maintaining rental housing can be a complicated and confusing process.

To help people gain a better understanding of how to acquire and keep housing, the University of Wisconsin-Extension has developed Rent Smart—an educational program aimed at helping those with little to no rental experience, or who have had trouble obtaining rental housing, get started on the right path.

“Rent Smart provides valuable information for potential renters to find and keep housing. The program focuses on gaining the knowledge and skills essential for a successful renting experience,” says Christine Kniep, UW-Extension Winnebago County UW-Extension family living educator and co-chair of the Family Living Rent Smart team that produced the program.

Kniep says the program takes an active learning approach that emphasizes forming a strong partnership between tenant and landlord. Other goals include helping people gain the skills and confidence to find and maintain affordable housing; understanding the application and screening processes landlords use; and learning the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.

“Establishing a positive rental history is much like having a positive credit report,” says Michelle Tidemann, Rent Smart team co-chair and family living educator with UW-Extension Fond du Lac County.

Tidemann says local partners trained in teaching the program are crucial to its success. Rental housing providers, local housing authorities and other tenant service providers who are trained in the course play an essential role in making it available in the community.

Rent Smart is divided into six units that can be taught alone or together. The sections cover: Helping future renters determine if they can afford an apartment; checking out an apartment and landlord; applying for rental housing; learning who is responsible for maintenance and repairs; communicating with landlord and neighbors; and legal aspects of renting.

Rent Smart Training Invite

Register here:
June 23: Hosted by Winnebago County at the UW-Extension Office:
625 E. County Road Y, Oshkosh, WI 54901
July 14: Hosted by Washburn, Sawyer, and Polk Counties at the Spooner Ag Station:
W6646 WI-70, Spooner, WI 54801
July 18: Hosted by the Dane County UW-Extension Office:
5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison, WI 53718
TIME: 8:30am Check-in and Networking – 9:00am – 4:00pm Training

Includes: Lunch and morning coffee
Bring: Laptop. (You will get more info on pre-work after registering.)
Cost: $15 for UW-Extension and $75 for non-Extension. A limited number of scholarships are available if needed – contact Libby at

To learn more about Rent Smart, visit online at

Contact for more information: Christine Kniep, phone: 920-232-1973, or or Michelle Tidemann, phone: 920-929-3174, or

Or Richland County Extension Office, contact Chelsea Wunnicke, Richland County Family Living Agent at or phone: 608-647-6148.