Moving away for college can be one of the most exciting and challenging times in your life.
Many students prefer the privacy and freedom of living off-campus in an apartment, and if you are one of them, be sure to ask the following five questions before signing an apartment lease.
What Is the Length of the Lease?
This is the main part of the lease that new tenants need to be very familiar with prior to signing. What is the length of the lease? How long are you obligated? Some leases allow month-to-month obligation, but most are for a specific length of time. Don’t rely on verbal agreements or handshakes when it comes to this important detail. Make sure that the exact length of the lease is in writing. Also, be clear on the rules if you are forced to break the lease prior to the end of the term and what those penalties will be.
What are the Terms of the Lease?
There are many different living terms that a landlord can put into a lease and it’s to your prerogative to be very clear about what they are before obligating yourself to a lease.
For example, you may be a tenant who enjoys painting or hanging drapes and pictures on the walls, as a way to personalize your own living space. Many landlords will not allow holes to be put in the walls or different paint colors other than the ones that are there.
Check your lease carefully—what’s in writing—regarding what you are allowed to do beforehand. You don’t want to lose your security deposit when the landlord wants your personalization efforts corrected!
You also want to find out if you’re allowed to have guests and the duration of time they are allowed to stay without being considered “co-tenants.” There are many standard leases with specific clauses restricting overnight guests.
What Are the Payment Terms?
Be clear about what day of the month your rent is due. Also, make sure that you keep receipts of your rent payments and that they specify to whom the money was paid and on what date. Additionally, find out the policy for refunding your security deposit once you decide to move on. Many landlords have waiting periods or may charge from your deposit for cleaning the unit once you leave.
What Is the Policy for Requesting Repairs or Maintenance?
Find the clause in your lease that specifies the procedure that you follow if something goes wrong in your apartment. If the plumbing breaks or there’s an electrical problem, whom do you call and how do you request that these things be repaired? Along with the upkeep and maintenance of the property, make sure that your lease specifies the use of a pest control services and how often these services will occur.
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Are Pets Allowed?
Many new college students want to take their pet with them to school to keep them company. But they don’t realize that most landlords won’t allow pets and, if they do, they have to be under a certain weight. If bringing your pet with you to college is a must, make sure the apartment you’re considering will allow your furry friend to stay with you.
College is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. Be sure that your living arrangements are perfect for you and that, before you sign anything, you are completely clear about what you are obligating yourself to.
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