T H E H O U S I N G P R O C E S S
ADVICE FROM OUR ATTORNEY, WYNN MOSMAN
- Actually GO SEE the place you are interested in renting, avoid renting "site unseen" if at all possible.
- Ask if the place you are shown is the exact place you would be renting, often rental agencies will show sample, or display apartments/houses. Beware model apartments.
- schedule a time with Student Legal Services to review lease or with someone who understands contracts.
- For example, a lease could have a small statement in it that prohibits tenants from subleasing in the future. This is something you as a tenant would want to know before signing the lease.
- Don't assume you know what statements in the lease mean, get a second opinion to double check their meanings.
- Bad decisions happen under stress and time constraints. Plan early.
- Roommates: Try to avoid living with people you don't know really really well. Can you trust them to consistently cover their portion of rent?
- If possible avoid having your own name on utility bills because if problems occur, it can destroy your credit score.
Once Lease Is Signed:
- Photos, photos, PHOTOS. Take photos of everything and then write down everything and anything that you find wrong in your space.
- Protect yourself by letting the landlord know in writing exactly what pre-existing problems you find in your living space.
- To be extra careful, fill a thumb-drive or CD with the move-in photos to give to landlord (still keep copies of photos for yourself).
- Fill out the check-in sheet. Write out every problem you find with the living space.
- It is very difficult for the law to recognize texting or phone calls, when you need to get in contact with your landlord--send them a letter (keep a copy/make a copy for yourself). Any letters you send do not necessarily have to be confrontational, the emphasis is more on being factual and keeping your landlord informed about any problems or questions about the living space.
While Living In Housing Space:
- Report any problems that come up during the tenancy in writing. Do this as soon as the problem begins. While you can call your landlord or rental agency, there is then no tangible proof that a request was made or problem reported, so make sure to report your complaint in writing.
- Make a rental file. This file should contain the photos you took when you moved in, photos of any problems you chose to report or request to be fixed, copies of all written correspondence with landlord or rental agency, copies of all rental payment receipts, and copy of rental agreement.
- IF SIGNING A JOINT LEASE: If one person does not pay, all signers are legally responsible, not just the roommate who didn't pay his or her portion.
- Look out for yourself, do not have parties at your place.
- Take photos after you have moved out and cleaned. Take as many photos as possible.
- Try not to be in a rush. Really take the time to clean
- Make sure to give the landlord the following: a forwarding address, your key, CD or flash drive with copies of the move-in and move-out photos.
- 14 days after the end of your lease, if you do not have your damage deposit or accounting of why it is not being returned then contact your landlord in writing requesting it get sent to your forwarding address.