UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEASE
CHOOSING A PLACE TO LIVE
Choosing to live off campus is an exciting step in your college career. But house and apartment hunting isn’t all HGTV cracks it up to be. There are many considerations when determining where to live, and you should take time to consider all of your options, learn about the housing search process and understand the terms of leasing. And remember, when living off campus, you’ll need to pay for living costs such as utilities, cable and Internet service.
You’ll become a dual citizen of both the Purdue and West Lafayette communities, and you’ll bear the extra responsibility of meeting the University’s expectations for students and the community’s requirements for its residents. Be a good neighbor. Be conscious of noise levels and parking regulations. Keep the property clean and tidy. But more on that later …
Leases are legally binding contracts, so you need to be in the know when you sign on the dotted line. Always read the lease carefully because it includes pertinent information regarding the responsibilities of you and your landlord.
Each lease will be different from the next on things such as lease duration, subletting and joint responsibility. Be sure to find a place and a lease that fits you best.
Keep in mind that a friend may not be the ideal roommate. Most leases hold you and your roommates jointly responsible, so that distracted friend who keeps forgetting to pay rent may cost you.
And if you love a place but have some concerns about the lease, talk to the landlord. Most leases are open to negotiation prior to signing.
THE LEASING PROCESS
Generally, the leasing process goes something like this…
- LOOK AROUND. You find a place to live by contacting area landlords and visiting open properties.
- APPLICATION. Once you have found a place, the landlord will ask you to fill out an application and will run a credit check.
- FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. The landlord may ask for a copy of your I-20 and/or letter of Purdue acceptance.
- SECURITY DEPOSIT. To hold the apartment, the landlord will likely require a security deposit and sometimes a portion of the rent.
- SIGN THE LEASE. If all goes well, then it’s time to sign. If you have any questions about the lease, contact Off-Campus Student Services or Student Legal Services before signing.
WHY YOU NEED RENTERS INSURANCE
Now that you’ve found your new home, it is important to protect it. Purchase renters insurance to protect your belongings in case of theft, fire or other scenarios that could damage them. Most landlords have insurance, which covers the property but not your belongings. Although not always required, renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and is the best way to ensure your belongings are protected, safe and sound. It usually can be purchased through home or car insurance companies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Purdue Off-Campus Housing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS A SECURITY DEPOSIT?
A security deposit is money sometimes required by your landlord and held for the duration of your lease. Say you pay a $500 security deposit at the start of the lease. You can get the money back at the termination of your lease, depending on the condition of your place and other possible charges. The landlord may use the deposit to cover any unpaid rent, damages or unpaid utility fees.
How can I ensure that I get my security deposit back?
The best way to ensure you get most or all of your security deposit back is to conduct a move-in and a move-out inspection. Document in writing and with photos the condition of the rental unit when you arrive and before you leave. Take photos and videos with a current newspaper date visible.
Most importantly, return your keys and provide your forwarding address in writing to the landlord on the move-out date. Once your landlord receives your keys and forwarding address, he/she has 45 days to return the security deposit or provide you with a list of charges taken from the deposit.
Take care of your apartment, too. The more damages — with the exception of normal wear and tear — that your apartment or house incurs for the duration of the lease, the less of your deposit money will be returned.
If the landlord does not provide one, rental inspection forms are available through Purdue Off-Campus Housing.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
What are the tenant’s duties?
Welcome to your new role as a tenant. With this new role comes some new rules. Also, it is your responsibility to notify your landlord of any needed repairs, but you have to be patient and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make them. At the end of your lease, your rental unit should be in the same or better condition as when you moved in.
What are the tenant’s rights and/or the landlord’s obligations?
Your landlord is responsible for making sure your rental space is safe, clean and habitable from the day you move in. The landlord also must adhere to the housing codes and provide and maintain electrical, plumbing and other systems as detailed in your lease.
FOR MORE INFORMATION and complete details on tenant and landlord duties, contact the Student Legal Services office at 765-494-7503 or visit the website at www.purdue.edu/sls.