By now you have probably heard from your student about the rush to find housing for next year. Many students are already searching for off-campus housing and eager to sign a lease.
Student Legal Services provides students with resources and legal representation to support them while living in off-campus housing. Gayle Rosen, housing attorney with Student Legal Services, notes:
Not only do we assist students when they are considering signing a lease, but we can also provide assistance when they are ready to move into an apartment, during their tenancy, and after they have moved out and want to recover their security deposit.
So what do students moving off-campus to rent a house or apartment need to know?
First, it is important that students remember that a lease is a valid contract! A signature on the lease commits the student to its terms. Before they sign a lease, remind your student to consider the following:
Have they thoroughly read the lease?
Is the rental amount correct? Who is responsible for paying utilities? When does the lease end? Are the tenants required to mow the lawn or shovel the snow? Are all promises between the tenants and the landlord written into the lease? Remember verbal promises may not be enforceable.
Students need to choose their roommates wisely. "A lease cannot be terminated just because the roommates no longer want to live together," Rosen notes. Almost every lease makes all of the tenants "jointly and severally liable." That means each of the tenants is responsible for everything. If one tenant doesn’t pay rent, the other tenants are still responsible for the full rent.
Paying a Deposit?
A student should carefully consider paying a deposit to hold the property. They should make sure they are interested in the property – or determine whether the deposit is refundable.
Should you Co-Sign?
Rosen also cautions that parents and guardians should beware that agreeing to co-sign or guarantee their student’s lease makes them fully responsible for the terms and conditions of the lease.
If students have any questions about a lease agreement they are about to sign, or need any assistance with other housing matters, they are encouraged to contact Student Legal Services for an appointment.
In addition to helping student tenants, Student Legal Services' five full-time attorneys provide education, consultation, referrals and legal representation to currently enrolled students at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. Legal services are funded through a modest fee included with students’ tuition which covers housing, family, consumer, and criminal law.
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