Tens of thousands of Arizona college students will be moving into off-campus housing and home rentals this month and signing lots of paperwork. For those renting a place, perhaps for the first time, there should be some serious considerations before you sign your lease.
Once you find that perfect apartment or rental house, you will need to sign a formal, legal agreement. The lease protects you and the owner/manager of the property. Most leases spell out specific responsibilities of managers and tenants. It’s worth the time to review this lease in full so you understand what utilities you are responsible for, parking issues, rules of the community, and fees and rent rates.
If you are planning to move in with roommates, there’s due diligence you can do at the front end to save you headaches later. Sharing costs can help when making payments for first and last month’s rent, security deposits, and opening utility accounts. Determine who will have their names (and their credit) on the lease and utility bills or insurance.
Consult with a parent or real-estate expert before you sign a joint lease. When you and your roommates sign a joint lease, you all assume liability for damages, late fees, etc. If one of your roommates fails to pay rent on time, everyone on the joint lease is responsible and your credit can be impacted.
Some owners/management companies will do individual leases but these are not as common. Under these leases, you would only be responsible for your share of the apartment and damage/ costs that you incur.
Consider drawing up a roommate agreement at the start of your lease to outline expectations and responsibilities for costs and behavior for your new home. You can find sample roommate agreements online.