Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Renting an Apartment
UM Housing understands that many UM students will be living in the surrounding areas of the University. Please use these guidelines before you commit yourself to signing a lease with any Management Company or individual renting housing:
Fees and Deposits
- Is there an application fee?
- Is there a security deposit?
- How much of the deposit is refundable?
- Is a credit check required?
- Is a guarantor required?
- What if I am over 21?
Lease Dates and Terms
- How long is the lease? Start date? End date?
- Is the lease collective (all roommates are responsible for the rent to be paid in full so if someone moves out, everyone else picks up their share) or individual (you pay for your portion of the apartment regardless of another roommate’s status)?
- Is subletting allowed?
- Can I get a copy of a lease and any rules/regulations before I make my decision?
- Is it possible to break the lease?
- What is the cost of breaking the lease?
- When is rent due?
- How much are late fees, and when are they applied?
- What forms of payment do you accept for rent?
- Will a deadline extension be granted for a financial aid delay?
- What time are keys available on the first day of the lease?
- Is the locking system electronic access only? If I prefer or need to use a hard key, is that possible?
- What kinds of safety systems are provided (sprinkler system, fire alarms, or intrusion alarms)?
- What utilities are included in the rent?
- Is there parking available?
- Is a parking permit required?
- Are there covered or reserved spaces?
- Are there hook-ups for washers and dryers in the apartments?
- If not, is there a laundry facility?
- How much does it cost?
- When is it open?
- Is there a gym? What are the hours? Does it cost extra to use?
- Are extermination treatments extra charges?
- Are all units individually metered for their utilities?
- Are all appliances electric?
- If not are there Carbon Monoxide detectors in the apartment?
- Is the hot water heater shared between apartments or stand alone per unit?
- How large is the hot water heater?
- Are all appliances electric?
- Is there on-site recycling?
Policies and Procedures
- What kind of notification is provided prior to apartment entry?
- What is the proper way to make a maintenance request?
- How quickly will maintenance requests be handled?
- Is there an emergency maintenance contact?
- Is there a preventative maintenance program? How is it set up?
- Is there a timely lock-out service?
- What is the policy on guests?
- Are pets allowed (if you already own a pet or have the desire to get one)?
- Are there any limitations on decorating the apartment?
- Is renters insurance required?
- Is there an incident reporting log for the apartment community?
- What type of crime issues have been reported to the Management Company or police for the apartment community?
Other Things you Should Do
- Talk to current residents/tenants
- Review all of your information with any other decision makers or support (i.e. parents or friends you are leasing with)
- Read your lease carefully before signing. Make sure that the provisions of the lease do NOT require you to:
- Give up the right to defend yourself against legal action
- Give the landlord permission to enter your apartment without notice in non-emergency situations
- Give the landlord permission to seize your belongings if rent is not paid on time
- Give the landlord permission to shut off utilities if rent is not paid on time
- Give up your right to report code violations
- Weigh the costs and amenities of each option (make sure you check out multiple options – create a spreadsheet of what each has to offer and costs of things you would need to add)
- Evaluate your budget (once you sign, you are obligated)
After Signing your Lease
- Obtain renter’s insurance (or ensure that you are covered under your parent’s home owners insurance)
- Follow the rules and policies
- Inspect your apartment at move-in
- Document damage and keep record
- Use this inspection to ensure that you return the apartment to it’s original condition when you move out
- Pay rent on time
- Maintain your apartment
- Properly operate the appliances and facilities
- Dispose of trash and recycling properly
- Do not interfere with other residents’ enjoyment of the community
- Comply with the terms of your lease and the community’s rules and regulations