Before you Sign the Lease and Move In
Where to live off-campus and choosing who to live with can be daunting, but with careful consideration and due diligence you can be set up for an exciting and successful year off-campus. Below are some common situations and things to consider before looking for a place, signing a lease, and preparing to move in.
Pressure to Sign a Lease
Many college-aged students, when the opportunity presents itself, look forward to their first off-campus living experience. Unfortunately, some individuals will attempt to take advantage of college students who are pursuing off-campus housing. Some students may feel pressured as early as their first year of college to sign a lease and secure housing for their senior year. Understand, you are not obligated to sign a lease at any point in time. Signing a lease is a big commitment that is not easily undone. A lot can transpire between a student's first year in college and their last. Friend groups can change over the course of just a year. If you do choose to sign a lease make sure you first understand the level of commitment involved. If you feel unwanted pressure from your peers to sign a lease, please reach out to Residence Life professional staff for assistance.
Landlords cannot refuse to sell, rent, sublease or otherwise make housing available based on a renter's race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Landlords also cannot charge some individuals higher rent or falsely state that housing is not available for discriminatory reasons. However, there are some exceptions to these rules. If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, the following agencies can help:
- Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Discrimination Hotline: (800) 669-9777
Before you Sign
As a prospective tenant, you have the right to ask the landlord questions. Before signing a lease, be sure that you are satisfied with the condition of the property, services provided by the landlord, and the security of the unit. Use the following tips to avoid common rental problems:
- Make sure you understand and can manage all the costs of renting the property-rent, security deposit, utilities, upkeep, insurance, etc. Before you rent, always inspect the apartment or house for needed repairs, bugs, rodents, and obvious electrical or plumbing problems.
- Give a list of the needed repairs to the landlord and make sure these repairs are made before you sign a lease.
- Ask your landlord if they can change the locks or have them re-keyed. If the landlord does not, ask if you can make the changes and then provide them with copies of the new keys.
Before signing a lease, have the following questions answered. It is a good idea, if possible, to have them addressed in the lease, as well. It is important to have a written lease because it provides evidence of the exact terms of agreement. Read the lease carefully:
- Who will pay for electricity, gas, water, cable, internet, etc.?
- When is rent due?
- What repairs and cleaning will the landlord do?
- What is the policy on keeping pets?
- Are fees charged for late payments?
- Who maintains the yard and handles snow removal?
- Is parking provided?
- How much are the deposit and the application fee (if any)?