5 Tips for Dealing With Your Landlord as a Student

5 Tips for Dealing With Your Landlord as a StudentMany college students are either moving into their new apartments as we speak, or preparing to. Or, maybe you’re still living in the dorms and thinking about switching over to an on- or off-campus apartment for the following school year. Either way, a college apartment is likely to be your first apartment, and knowing what to look for and how to interact with your landlord can be a difficult thing to master.

A landlord’s job is to work alongside you throughout the term of your lease. Prior to signing the lease, confirm that your future landlord will hold up their end of the bargain. Throughout your lease, you will want to ensure mutual respect. Here’s our advice on how to keep a good, professional relationship with your landlord:

1. Ask Questions

If it seems like you don’t know what you want in a place, you will most likely be walked on by a potential landlord. Here is a compilation of initial questions to ask:

  • What is the total square footage and room configuration?
  • Are any utilities covered by the rent? If not, can you give me an estimate for those costs?
  • What are your parking options?
  • Is there on-site maintenance, security, and/or property managers?
  • What is the refund policy for security deposits?
  • Will facilities staff conduct inspections, and how much notice do they need to give?
  • Are there any safety or health concerns associated with the property?

2. Take a Walkthrough

Before signing any lease you should always conduct a formal walkthrough with your landlord. While viewing the rental property:

  • Double check the addresses to make sure you are visiting the correct unit. Some landlords are in charge of hundreds of properties, so it’s easy for them to make a mistake.
  • Make sure the amenities match what is advertised in the listing, and ask questions regarding missing or damaged items.
  • Test out light switches, locks, doors, windows, and other facilities to identify current or potential problems.

3. Review Your Lease

Always read your entire lease. You may discover surprising restrictions and procedures. Most landlords provide highly detailed lease agreements to protect both parties.

What to consider:

  • What are the penalties if you’re forced to break a lease due to work, school, or family responsibilities?
  • What charges are you liable for?
  • If you decide to move away during summer break, are you allowed to sublet your room?
  • Are you allowed to add roommates to your lease?
  • Are there any pet policies?

4. Protect Yourself

Tenant and landlord rights vary based on your specific location, with certain laws governing states, counties, and cities.

Inquire the following:

  • What are your maintenance responsibilities?
  • How are hazardous situations handled?
  • Under what conditions can you be evicted and what is the legal process?
  • Under what conditions can you legally break your lease without any penalties?
  • Is renter’s insurance required?

Be assertive and upfront with your landlord from the beginning. Unfortunately, many college students are not well-versed in dealing with landlords, and some landlords may try to take advantage of this.

Even if renter’s insurance is not required, we still recommend keeping yourself and your roommates protected. Here in Connecticut, we offer a special Renters Insurance for College Students, which addresses the specialized risks that college apartments face at a rate that is affordable for students.

5. Know How to Identify Scams

Be aware of scammers who advertise fraudulent property listings.

Warning signs include:

  • The price seems too good to be true; based on market rates for similar, surrounding properties
  • Excuses for why a rental unit can’t be shown
  • Requests for payment before you see the apartment
  • No professional online presence or leasing office location

Never submit payments or sign a contract before seeing a property  and always leave a payment paper trail with checks; never use cash.

About Byrnes Agency

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