Signing a Lease
Do not sign a lease until you personally enter and view the exact unit you will be renting. A model unit may give you an idea of the available units, but ask to see the specific unit for rent, even if people are currently living there.
Once you have visited a unit multiple times and are seriously considering renting the place, you may need to provide the landlord with certain information:
- Application fee: You may need to pay an application fee (typically $30-$75 range). The landlord may check your credit report as well.
- Co-signor: Most landlords require a student under the age of 23 to have a co-signor (typically a parent or guardian).
- Holding fee: if you will not be moving in right away. This will secure your unit while your application is processed.
- Sign lease: Before signing the lease, read the lease before signing. The lease affects your rights and responsibilities. After signing the lease, your co-signor will also be asked to sign the lease. Ask for a copy of everything you and your landlord sign.
- Security deposit: The deposit is usually equal to one month's rent. The security deposit is refundable, as long as the property is returned in the same condition as it was received, minus normal wear and tear. Some landlords may ask for not only the security deposit, but also the first month's rent, up front.
- If you feel that the landlord's requirements are outrageous and you are being discriminated against, contact the Arizona Department of Housing.
- If you are an international student and the landlord has different stipulations for you versus an American student, you may want to contact Arizona Department of Housing.
- Other Fees and Deposits: Make sure that penalties for late payment and any refundable deposits at the end of your lease are clearly spelled out. In addition some leases have terms for pet ownership (i.e. pet rent) in addition to the monthly rent.
Purchase Renter's Insurance
- Protect Your Property: Your landlord's insurance does not cover your personal property in the event it is damaged in a fire or stolen. Check with your auto insurance company or other insurance companies for a price quote. You can also ask your parents to see if their homeowner's insurance covers your property.
- Protect Yourself: Review your renter’s insurance policy (or any potential policy) to ensure that the policy covers your acts of negligence. Some insurance policies will exclude your acts of negligence from coverage. So, for example, if you accidently cause a fire in your apartment that leads to damaged personal property, you want to make sure you’re covered by your renter’s insurance.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
- Responsibilities: As a tenant you have certain responsibilities. For example, you must take out your trash and only put recyclables in the blue bins, keep bathrooms in clean and sanitary condition, maintain the heat above freezing temperatures, keep your living areas clean and in sanitary condition, and avoid insects and other pests from infesting your rental unit.
- Rights: As a tenant you have rights as well. For example, your landlord must provide heat and water at all times, provide functioning fire safety devices, and provide garbage service and trash receptacles.
- Off-Campus Housing Guide: The ASU Off-Campus Housing Guide is your resource for a successful off-campus living experience.
Remember: when you sign a lease, you're signing a binding contract. You are responsible for paying the rent until the end of the lease term, and no excuses (i.e., family emergencies, a roommate moving out, or changes in your study plans) release you from this responsibility.
Above all - know your rights and responsibilities, ONLY SIGN DOCUMENTS YOU UNDERSTAND, keep a copy of all documents, rent receipts, complaints and requests for service from management. Be cooperative with neighbors and police, seek out and use the resources available to you should problems arise.