From the Winter 2012 Parent Newsletter
Students who are currently living in residence halls will be deciding in January whether to stay on campus for another year or to move to an off-campus house or apartment. Meanwhile, apartment residents are considering whether to move to another neighborhood and whether they would like to live with different roommates.
Signing a lease is a legal commitment. Talk with your student about the responsibilities that come with signing a lease, living with roommates, and sharing the chores of caring for a home. University Student Legal Services (USLS) provides U of M students with professional legal services and advice. They pass along the following tips for looking at a house or apartment:
- Look carefully at the property, and take your time. Is it clean inside and out? Run the faucets; look under the sink for plumbing leaks; flush the toilet; look in the refrigerator and other appliances; check the windows, smoke detectors, door locks, and any amenities to see how they are maintained. Look at ceilings and walls for cracks or water stains.
- Don’t sign anything, including an application or a lease, until you read it carefully and understand what it means. Ask questions if you aren’t sure.
- Will you have roommates? Make sure all roommates understand and agree that each is fully obligated under the terms of the lease. You are individually and jointly responsible for the payment of all rent due and any damage to the property.
- Don’t pay a deposit to hold the property, unless you are sure you want to rent or the deposit is refundable if you decide not to rent. Ask to review the lease before paying the deposit.
- If possible, take a day or so to review the lease before you sign. Don’t be rushed or pressured into taking a place you aren’t sure about. Get copies of all documents you sign.
An attorney or paralegal at USLS will review leases with students and identify problem clauses. Encourage your student to check with USLS before signing a lease. To learn more or download a Tenant Resource Guide, see the USLS website.
During spring semester, USLS will partner with the Minnesota Student Association and with Student and Community Relations to provide workshops on the legal rights and responsibilities for renters. The workshops are free and will be scheduled in several campus locations, including residence halls, during late January and February. Students should watch for posters and advertisements.