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Renting for the First Time

So your student believes s/he is ready to move off campus.  Here are some general things to consider when your student is leasing for the first time.

General Questions

  • How much money would your student need each month to pay rent and utilities?
  • Consider cost (deposit(s), cable, internet, power, water, trash removal, homeowners association fees), safety, shopping, laundry, parking, transportation and the social aspect of college living when deciding to live on or off campus.
  • Will your student live alone or with others?
  • Is your student prepared to live with a roommate(s) for the entire lease (usually 12 months)?

Safety Concerns

  • Is there sufficient lighting? Are all exit/entrance points well lit? Is the parking lot well lit and easily accessible to accommodations?
  • Road concerns: access, incline (steep), flood plain, care of road in inclement weather
  • Are common areas well lit?
  • Are the buildings and grounds well maintained?
  • Check the door systems (Wood or metal door frames? Are doors in good condition? Is there a deadbolt? Are there peepholes on the doors?)
  • Check the windows and screens for damage.
  • Request information from the landlord or police about crimes and types of crimes in the area.
  • Make sure that fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are in proper working order.

Renter’s Insurance

  • Consider purchasing renter’s insurance to cover loss of belongings from fire damage, water damage, or theft. Your landlord is NOT responsible for your personal belongings.
  • Check if your family’s home insurance will cover your student's apartment.

Roommate Considerations

  • Choose roommates carefully.
  • Ask about study and sleep habits.
  • Discuss cleaning and food arrangements.
  • Discuss how your student and roommate(s) will split the utilities.
  • Discuss overnight guest arrangements.

The Search Process

  • Call and make an appointment with leasing companies to view accommodations.
  • View a variety of options before making a decision.
  • Compare accommodations, amount of rent, and amenities.
  • Speak to current tenants from the complex—ask questions!

Signing the Lease

  • Before signing a lease: If you do not understand the lease, ask for a copy of it and have someone you trust review it with you.
  • Do not feel pressured to sign a lease immediately; there will always be another apartment available.  Also remember that leases are legally binding agreements.  Once your student signs the lease, s/he is bound by law to abide by the lease.
  • Ask questions!
  • When signing, make sure all tenants of the apartment are signing at the same time (co-signers may be required).
  • Negotiate before signing; your student may be able to get something added to the lease.
  • Inspect the apartment for which your student is signing; do not sign blindly.
  • Get EVERYTHING in writing.

Your Student’s New Home

  • Before moving in, inspect the apartment thoroughly; report any repairs needed and demand that they are resolved prior to moving in.
  • Have a list of important contact numbers handy including the landlord, maintenance, and other important numbers.
  • Call maintenance for all repairs.
  • Report all problems with the apartment to the landlord and/or maintenance services immediately.

Subleasing/Moving out

  • Make sure the landlord allows for subleasing in the lease.
  • Create and post flyers that describe the apartment and provide contact information
  • Tell friends to pass the word around.
  • When moving out, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!
  • Ask for an itemized list of charges.
  • Question all charges that appear to be unwarranted or incorrect.
 

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