Leasing or renting a place to live off-campus can be a very exciting and positive experience. However, it can also be confusing and overwhelming. The following links will provide you with information and resources to help you successfully navigate your off-campus experience from signing a lease to moving out and getting your security deposit back:
Where to Start?
Moving off-campus? Wonder where to start? There are some obvious preferences you may have already thought of, such as rent price and location, or house vs. apartment. However, before you begin looking at places, you may want to have a list of “necessities”. Here are just a few questions you may want to consider before signing a lease. When you call about a place, ask about your preferences before arranging to see it. Taking the time to make the list of preferences you are looking for before you start your search will save you some time in your search process. This Housing Search Checklist can be used when you are visiting potential rentals.
Joint and Several vs. Individual Liability?
One of the most important parts of a lease is whether it is an individual or joint and severally liability lease. If you signed an individual lease, you are only responsible for yourself. For example, if your roommate moves out early, you will not be responsible for paying that person’s rent or losing your security deposit. If you signed a lease that is joint and severally liable, you and your roommates are equally responsible. For example, if your roommate moves out early, you can be held legally responsible for paying the rent. Signing separate leases does not mean you are in an individual lease and signing the same lease does not mean you are in a joint and severally liable lease. It can be wise to negotiate for an individual lease with the property manager.
Typical Renting Requirements
You may be asked to fill out an application and pay a fee. The landlord may also check your credit report. Some campus area landlords require a student under the age of 23 to have a co-signor (typically a parent or guardian). Once your application has been approved, you will then be asked to sign a lease. Make sure to read the lease thoroughly before signing. REMEMBER: Leases are negotiable documents, as long as you and the landlord agree to the terms and both sign off on the lease. Check out more information about leases at our Signing a Lease page. After signing the lease, your co-signor may also be asked to sign the lease (basically this is assurance to the landlord that if the student tenants are not able to pay the rent, that they as a co-signor will be held responsible for covering the costs). Once all documents have been signed, make sure to keep a copy of EVERYTHING! Typically, after signing the lease, the landlord will ask that you pay a security deposit. The security deposit is refundable, as long as the property is returned in the same condition as it was received. Some landlords may ask for, not only the security deposit, but also the first month’s rent up front.