Moving into your own house or apartment can present a unique set of challenges if you’ve never experienced it before, and there are a few things you may want to do before you sign your first house or apartment lease.
“Know what your budget is,” Craig Lauppe, president and owner of Advanced Property Management in Manhattan, said. “Know what you can afford per person to pay at a property each time before you start looking for properties.”
David Glauner, freshman in music education, said he didn’t want to live in the dorms because he knew he could save money by living off campus. He also, however, had to start looking early for a place to live off campus.
“I did not really plan ahead when it came to finding a living situation,” Glauner said.
Glauner said he found his place and roommates through a Craigslist post. Although he said he got lucky with his living situation, he wouldn’t suggest looking through Craigslist first.
Megan Robinson, sophomore in animal sciences and industry, said to use sources you know when looking for a place to live off campus. She said she advises asking around to find out more about a landlord or location if you see an advertisement in a newspaper you like.
Lauppe said to make sure you know your criteria before you begin looking at properties, like how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want. Doing this helps narrow things down, but don’t get too picky.
For Robinson, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms were not as big of a deal as the kitchen.
“One big thing I was looking at was the kitchen, because I love to cook,” Robinson said. “So as long as there was a working stove and oven and a place to put food, I was happy.”
Robinson said to evaluate the quality of the place when you’re looking at it, not just what it comes with. For example, she said paint chipping off the walls can be lived with, whereas mold in the bathroom cannot.
Lauppe said Advanced Property’s goal is to provide a safe environment for its tenants, but potential tenants still need to look for safety issues.
“(When) the tenant walks into a property, they need to look for signs of things that are broke,” Lauppe said. “If stuff is broke, they need to ask questions about it.”
Robinson also said getting your family involved in the process of looking for a place and signing a lease can be helpful.
“If you haven’t signed a lease before, you don’t know what to look for,” Robinson said.
Lauppe said there a few very common problems that come up between tenants and landlords when tenants don’t completely understand the terms of their lease.
“Read the lease,” Lauppe said. “Know and educate yourself on what you’re signing.”
The first thing Lauppe said tenants need to pay attention to is the severability clause, especially if you are planning to split rent between multiple roommates.
Lauppe said this clause means if one roommate doesn’t pay the rent then all of the other tenants are still responsible for paying the total amount. You can still be charged late fees if one roommate forgets to pay.
Lauppe also said he advises that you pay attention to how much it costs to add a sub-leaser to the lease and how much it costs if you decide to change roommates.
Robinson said it’s important to know your roommates, because you have to be able to work out problems together. If you don’t, it could end with someone moving out and that causes fees.
Lastly, Lauppe said to pay close attention to the expectations for checkout at the end of the lease term. You need to know what you are responsible for taking care of before you move out. Cleaning, changing the smoke detector batteries and carpet cleaning are all very common requirements, according to Lauppe.
“Some leases don’t say anything other than, ‘you are responsible for the damages and the non-cleanliness of your property upon checkout,'” Lauppe said.
Lauppe said Advanced Property leases are very specific about the expectations for cleanliness and conditions of the property at checkout, as well as the charges for any damages.
Lauppe said it’s important to pay attention to the details, because many landlords and management companies get bad reputations for charging tenants for any and all damages.
“Understand what you’re signing up front, so that you understand why you are being charged,” Lauppe said.