You’ve found the perfect student apartment, and you want it to be yours. You’ve filled out an application, and been approved. Now, it’s finally time to make it official and sign your lease!
At Rambler, we’ve helped many students sign leases at student housing apartments, and understand that it can be a complicated process.
For this reason, we will be explaining what a student housing lease is, how to sign one, and things to look out for when signing.
How to Sign a Student Housing Apartment Lease near the University of Texas at Austin
Step 1: Understanding Your Lease
Before we dive into the details of how to sign a lease, it is important to understand what a lease really is.
Simply put, an apartment lease is a written agreement between a landlord and tenant that establishes the terms and conditions of the use and occupancy of a dwelling.
Purpose-built student housing apartments typically offer individual leases rather than traditional leases. This is extremely common in the Austin student housing market.
An individual lease is a rental agreement in which multiple people living in one unit only take responsibility for their room, plus communal spaces. This way, each tenant will pay rent separately to their landlord. Individual leases are sometimes called “by the bedroom” leases.
In the case of an individual lease, if you are living in a 4×4 (four bedrooms, four bathrooms) with three other roommates, each roommate will sign their own lease for their specific bedroom, bathroom, and use of common space. This way, each roommate will pay their individual rental rate and is held responsible for their payment only. Rent for each bedroom may vary depending on the amenities included (e.g. Is one room bigger than the other? Do some rooms have windows and others don’t? Does one room have a bathroom attached versus not?).
Step 2: Reviewing Your Lease
Now that you understand what an individual lease is, it is important to understand the process of signing one. You will want to familiarize yourself with the specific terms of your lease, plus what happens once you’re ready to sign.
Things to look out for when signing a lease
A student housing apartment lease is usually around 40 pages. It is important that you read each page so you understand what you will be held accountable for. Remember, this is a legally binding contract, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
It is important to know the specific terms of your lease. You will want to pay close attention to:
- Important dates – Think move-in, move-out, holidays, renewals, etc. Mark these on your calendar and be sure to take note of which dates are applicable to you.
- Important fees – Your lease should specify fees that are included in your rental rate, plus additional fees that you may need to pay. Be sure to look out for any unexpected fees before you sign.
- Rent amount and due date – Be sure that the rental rate is what you are expecting, as well as when your rent is due each month. This way, you will have no surprises when it comes to the rental rate, and you can avoid late fees.
- Renters insurance – While renters insurance is always a good idea to have, other apartments require it. Some apartments offer rental insurance of their own for a small fee, which may be optional or required. Be sure to understand the policy before signing.
- Pet policy – If you’re planning on bringing a furry friend, be sure to understand the pet policy. Look out for pet deposit and/or pet rent fees, plus any limitations on breed or size.
- Length of the lease – Student leases are typically 12 months, but make sure to ask before you sign! Shorter leases are available at some properties but are often priced higher per month than 12-month leases.
- Renewing your lease – Most student housing leases simply end on the date stated in the lease, but if you would like to renew, you typically can. Be sure to mark the date by which you have to renew to ensure you can stay in your unit.
- Breaking your lease – While nobody wants to have to break their lease, life happens, and it is best to know what would happen if this scenario were to occur. Familiarize yourself with the policy just in case.
- Subletting – If there’s a chance that you may want to sublet your apartment, read your lease to determine whether you’re allowed to sublet. Some landlords prohibit it, some allow it, and some allow it only with approval. If the lease does not mention subletting, you should ask your landlord to clarify.
Step 3: Signing Your Lease!
Once you’ve read the terms of your lease, and it looks as you expect, it’s time to sign! If you are a full-time student who does not work, or only works part-time, you will likely need a guarantor.
Not only do student housing properties require a guarantor, but most Austin landlords do not accept tenants who are undergraduate students unless those tenants have one.
So, what is a guarantor in a student housing lease?
A guarantor is someone who co-signs the lease and is responsible for any rent payments that you cannot or do not make. As a student, this will typically be a parent or guardian. Both you and your guarantor should gather your bank account statements, pay stubs, and Social Security numbers for the landlord to run a credit check.
After your lease is signed by you and your guarantor and your credit check is passed, your lease should be ready for approval!
When you know what to look for, signing a lease at a student housing apartment can be a simple process. If you need help, feel free to reach out to the Rambler leasing team. They are happy to answer any questions you might have!
Before you know it, you will be done with your application and living in your own apartment near UT!