Finding housing can be challenging – especially as a student at UT Austin. With so many variables, it can be difficult to know what space is right for you. Between traditional apartments in Riverside, houses in North Campus, and West Campus student housing apartments, you are certainly not short of housing options.
At Rambler, our leasing team has helped hundreds of students find housing near UT Austin, and we understand that there are a lot of options to choose from.
We are often asked questions about purpose-built student housing, specifically when it comes to individual leases. For this reason, we will dive into the differences between individual and traditional leases, plus the benefits of signing an individual lease at a purpose-built student housing apartment.
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In this article, I will explain:
- What an individual lease is
- What a traditional or “joint” lease is
- The benefits of signing an individual lease
What is an Individual Lease?
Before we can discuss the benefits of an individual lease, we will have to define the term. An individual lease is an agreement in which multiple people living in the same unit take responsibility for their room only, plus communal spaces. Therefore, each tenant will pay rent separately to their landlord. This can be considered a “by the bedroom” lease.
For example, if you are living in a 4×4 (four bedrooms, four bathrooms) with three other roommates, each roommate signs their own lease for their specific bedroom, bathroom, and use of common space. Each roommate will pay rent individually and is responsible only for their payment. Rent for each bedroom may vary depending on the amenities included (i.e., does the room have an ensuite? Do some rooms have windows and others don’t?).
So, for the four-bedroom apartment, four individual leases are signed and rent is quoted on a per bedroom basis.
While you can sometimes find individual leases at traditional apartments, they are standard for purpose-built student housing apartments and are extremely common in the Austin student housing market.
What is a Traditional Lease?
On the other hand, a traditional lease, also known as a joint lease, works a bit differently. This is what probably comes to mind when you think about renting an apartment.
The landlord will lease out the entire apartment, not just an individual room. You and your roommates will all sign one joint lease rather than four separate individual leases. This can also be considered a “by the apartment” lease.
Each roommate will then be liable for the entire apartment, including rent, utilities and any damages. In this scenario, you and your roommates will come to an agreement together to pay rent and utilities each month.
In this case, there would only be one lease signed and rent would be quoted for the entire apartment.
Traditional leases are offered at most traditional apartment complexes and houses in West Campus, North Campus, and Riverside.
What Are the Benefits of Signing an Individual Lease Near UT Austin?
1. You are Only Responsible for Your Portion of Rent
With an individual lease, you are not financially responsible for any of your roommates.
If a roommate cannot pay rent, you and your other roommates will not be responsible for their payment. If one of your roommates moves out, it is up to the property manager to fill the room again. You will not be responsible for their rent payment or utility expenses.
In a traditional apartment, it would be on you to cover the outstanding rent or to find a new roommate to replace the one who moved out.
2. No Need to Negotiate Amongst Roommates
In a traditional or joint lease, roommates will have to decide amongst each other how much each roommate is paying, where each roommate will live, which rooms will be bedrooms, which rooms will be shared space, etc.
However, with an individual lease, this decision is already made for you. When you sign your lease, you commit to a specific bedroom within the apartment. Your rent is determined based on this room assignment. This way, there is no arguing over who gets the biggest bedroom or how much more the person with the ensuite bathroom should pay. These prices are set in advance by the property management company and you agree to your individual payment at the time of lease signing.
3. Simple Payment Process
With a traditional lease, you have to determine how payments will be made and how the rent will be divided amongst the roommates each month. Often, one person is responsible for collecting payments for every roommate and making payments to the landlord, utility company, etc.
However, with an individual lease, there’s no need to coordinate among roommates. All you have to do is log on and take care of your own rent and utilities. And most student housing apartment complexes make it easy, so you only have to make one or two payments each month, typically one rental payment and one utility payment.
This eliminates the headache of having to determine one roommate who will be responsible for paying the landlord each month and collecting payments from the other roommates.
4. More is Covered in Rental Rate
With an individual lease, the apartment complex will often cover costs that are traditionally additional. These may include WiFi, cable, trash, and sometimes even utilities.
Not to mention, most purpose-built student housing apartments will have study areas, fully furnished units, and roommate matching. The ones built for freshmen in particular often have meal plans available as well.
However, with a traditional lease, you likely have to source these utilities yourself. If you’d rather avoid setting up cable, a WiFi router, or taking out your own trash, individual leases might be a good fit for you.
5. No Responsibility for Damages to Other Bedrooms
Similar to how you are not responsible if one of your roommates decides to stop paying rent, with an individual lease, you are also not responsible to pay any damages in their bedrooms.
Rather than traditional leases where all signees are equally liable, with individual leases, each roommate is only fully responsible for damages in their own bedrooms. Any damages in common areas are split between roommates unless one roommate takes accountability for the damage.
Although joint leases are common at traditional apartment complexes and houses in West Campus Austin, there are many benefits to choosing an individual lease over a joint lease. While individual leases can more expensive than traditional leases, they offer simplicity and less financial risk, ideal for a student.
If you have any questions about individual leases or want to learn more about Rambler, contact our leasing staff, who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have during your student housing search.