Starting your search
When looking for a place to live, be sure to look at the area around the apartment or the property. See what is in the area within comfortable walking distance. This is important especially if you do not have your own car. Find out what food markets are in the area, public transportation stops, places of worship, and other shops that are important to you.
Please be sure to read through our page “Questions to ask as a renter and other facts”. You will see more information about what to look for in housing and what to ask about during your search and application process.
Before you sign anything you need to be sure of the choice you are making. Once you sign the lease agreement or rental agreement you are now locked into a legal contract. If you try to get out of the agreement early you, or the person who cosigned with you, may have to pay penalties for breaking the agreement.
The start of the application process will usually begin with contacting the leasing manager or the landlord. This is the best time to ask any questions about the property like:
You may not be billed separately for gas, water, sewer, or garbage removal. These may show up as added fees on your rent bill.
Get it in Writing
The relationship between you and your leasing manager or landlord is a business relationship. You two can have a very friendly relationship but it is still a business relationship. If you two speak and agree to something about the apartment, or a change to your agreement, get it in writing.
Make sure that everyone’s name is on the agreement. It would be ideal that whoever is representing the property is on the lease, whether it is the landlord or the property manager. A property management company may be listed as the landlord for some apartment complexes. The company name will be listed as the landlord. At least make sure that the person who is working with you has their name and title somewhere on the agreement and that they are authorized to make the deal with you. This will help protect you when you decide to move out.
In the end, any deal you workout you should ask for it in writing and keep all emails between you and your landlord or property manager.
Know what you are signing
A lease and a rental agreement are two different things.
A lease is a contractual agreement for a set period of time, typically 12 months.
A rental agreement is for a shorter term.
Another part of either agreement type, is if the agreement is individual or if it is a group agreement.
A group agreement is normally what many property leasing managers and landlords will use.
An individual agreement sets financial responsibility for each individual tenant.
Checking the Apartment
Before moving anything into the apartment or property, do a walk through room by room. Make sure there are no damages or defects in any of the spaces. Take pictures of everything if needed, any pictures will need to be somehow time and date stamped. You need to mention any problems you see and document them for yourself and the landlord/property manager. Usually you will do the walk through with the landlord or property manager.
Anything not documented can be charged to you off your security deposit when you move out. Many landlords/property managers will want to know about the condition of the property to make any repairs.
Before, or at the latest the day you move in, get the information on how to report repairs. Also, you will need to know who to contact about any maintenance or repairs for the apartment, this is more important if the property does not have on site maintenance staff. Some apartments will have the ability to schedule repairs by a website. At least a phone number should be requested.
If anything needs to be repaired in your apartment or rental property report it right away. Keep any information about any repairs for yourself.
Be prompt with repairs. If something gets worn while you are the tenant, then the landlord or property manager can charge repairs to you off your security deposit after you move out.
The security deposit is an additional payment made to the landlord or property manager to pay for any damages or if the tenant fails to make rental or lease payments. It is also used if the tenant(s) do not pay utilities.
You are able to get this money back at the end of your least or rental term. Along with following the information above, here are some things to work through when you are getting ready to move out.
After you move out and hand over the keys to the property manager or landlord, wait up to 30 days for their response. If you have any questions about the security deposit, like how it will be paid back to you, when you hand the keys over will be the best time.
Dan Kim, the Off Campus Housing Coordinator is available to answer any questions on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from noon until 5:00pm. Any messages left after 5:00pm on Friday will be returned the following Wednesday.
If you need assistance on Monday or Tuesday please contact Tracy Reed, the Assistant Director of Student Life, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-881-7508.