As a college student, you have plenty of choices these days when it comes to your living situation. Many freshmen choose to stay on campus that first year as a way of easing into the higher education experience. This can be a good strategy, but campus living isn’t for everyone, particularly if you’ve already tried dorm life and are looking for a bit more independence. Before signing a lease, there are some things you should consider, such as these questions to ask your landlord.
What Is Included in Rent?
When it comes to renting off-campus housing, it’s important to be thorough in your search. Unfortunately, not all landlords are scrupulous and may look for ways to take advantage of a young person’s lack of life experience. Be sure to find out exactly what is included in your rental rate and whether there are any additional fees you should be aware of. Some leases include all utilities, for example, while others will require you to obtain services like electricity and water in your name.
You’ll also want to ask about any amenities and whether they are included in the price of your apartment. Off-campus complexes are often known to offer such perks as computer labs, fitness centers, pools and outdoor recreation areas. Knowing this information can help to narrow down your final choices.
When Is the Rent Due and How Can I Pay
Of course, you’ll want to know when your rent is due each month so that you can pay in a timely manner. Paying on time is also likely to save you on any late fees, which is something you’ll also want to ask about. These fees can get expensive, particularly if they accumulate each day the rent is late. Another rent-related question is whether there is a grace period after the due date in which late fees will be waived. Some events are unforeseeable.
A grace period of a few days could be quite helpful. Finally, with regard to rent, find out how rent is to be paid. These days, it’s common for rental companies to provide tenants with an online portal for convenience. This provides a convenient way to make a rent payment even when you’re at home for a break. Be advised that there could be a small fee added for making online payments, though.
Is Renters Insurance Required?
Some landlords require tenants to purchase renters insurance as a means of protecting their own liability. Carrying this type of coverage can be a smart move even if you aren’t required to have it. A renters insurance policy covers your personal possessions from things like theft, vandalism, water damage or sometimes even a natural disaster. It can also protect you in certain cases if someone is injured in your apartment. The costs for this type of insurance are usually quite minimal. It has the potential to save you thousands of dollars, making it a wise investment.
How Much Is the Security Deposit?
Another important question to ask with regard to student living is how much is required for a security deposit. A security deposit covers any damages you or your roommates may cause during your stay. Some landlords may only require the equivalent of one month’s rent as a deposit, while others might ask for the first month’s and last month’s rent upfront in addition to a separate security deposit. It’s also possible to find an apartment complex offering a discount or promotion that could lower or waive the deposit completely.
How Long Is the Lease?
You definitely don’t want to gloss over any details with regard to your lease terms. Find out how long your lease is for. Is it for an entire year or just the academic year? When does the lease begin and end? When will you need to sign a new lease if you decide to stay in your apartment for the next school year as well? What happens if you need to break the lease early? The answers to these questions can play a significant role in your ultimate rental decision.
These are some of the most important questions to ask a landlord before signing any lease. After all, a lease is a legally binding document. So, it’s crucial you understand the terms.