Renter Qualifications

Finances

Most apartment buildings in the county have an income minimum requirement of three times the amount of rent in order for an applicant to qualify. With the average two bedroom apartment running $1,200 per month, an applicant would have to make $3,600 per month to qualify. It is difficult for many students to meet this requirement; in most cases, parents will need to co-sign for them. Financial aid, including loans or scholarships, would be considered income.

Typically, each student as well as their parents (co-signor) will have to submit an application and each pay application fees. Application fees will vary. It is important that students discuss this with their parents. You are asking them to take financial responsibility for the apartment as well as to divulge confidential financial information. To be fair, every parent should be on the lease as well as every student. The financial obligations should not be the responsibility of one family if the apartment/house is being shared with other students.

Lease Agreements

Most apartments require that you sign a lease. There are two types of leases: Fixed Term (usually 6, 9, or 12 months) and Month to Month.

Fixed Term

Signing a Fixed Term lease means that you will be responsible for paying the rent and living in the apartment for a certain amount of time. Occasionally, an apartment building will offer lower rent or a lower deposit in exchange for you signing a 6, 9, or 12 month lease. The advantage to a Fixed Term lease is that you can't be asked to move and your rent cannot be raised during the span of your lease. The disadvantage is that you cannot move should you find something better or decide to leave the area. A lease is a legal document that once signed cannot be broken without incurring penalties. Before signing any lease, you should find out what the penalty is to break it.

Month to Month

A Month to Month lease is just that; it is in effect from one month to the next. The advantage to this type of lease is that you can move out at any time, considering that you have given 30 days written notice. This tends to be the better option for the nomadic student who goes home for the summer or is always on the lookout for that ever elusive house in the country. Also, if you don't get along with your new neighbors or are disappointed in your new apartment, you can leave after giving 30 days written notice. The disadvantage of a month to month lease is that rent can be raised at any time and the landlord only has to give you 30 days written notice to vacate the premises.

Important Points

  • Read the lease. Read through the lease thoroughly before signing it. Make sure you understand ALL of it. If there is something in it that you don't like, discuss it with the manager.
  • Don't be rushed. Never feel rushed into signing anything and never accept the excuse that it is just like every other lease out there.
  • Check the names. Make sure that the name of every tenant is on the lease. When students move out or move in, it is vital that the new tenant's name be added to the lease. If your roommates can't make the rent or causes a lot of damage, it is the person whose name is on the lease who will be held accountable.
  • Get a Copy. Do not leave the manager's office without a copy of your lease. File it away in a safe place as you will definitely refer to it again in the future.