When you rent a room or an apartment you will be required to sign a lease. A lease is a written contract between you and the landlord (the owner of the rental property). When you sign a lease, you agree to pay a certain amount of money each month and to follow certain rules in exchange for the right to occupy the rental property for a set period of time. Most lease agreements require that you pay a security deposit which can be equal to one month’s rent. This security deposit will be returned to you if you fulfill all the terms of the lease. Read the lease carefully and be sure you understand it before signing it.
Here are some key questions to ask any landlord when considering an apartment:
- How many minutes does it take to get to Indiana Tech’s campus by walking? And driving?
- Is there a bus line close by?
- What type of apartment is it? A house? An apartment complex?
- How many bedrooms does it have?
- How much is the rent per month?
- Is a security deposit required?
- What type of lease term is offered (monthly, 6 month, 9 month, year)?
- Are children allowed?
- Are pets allowed? Is an extra security deposit required for pets?
- What kind of heat is used (gas or electric)?
- Who pays for utilities (heat, electric, water, trash, sewage, etc.)?
- What are the estimated costs of utilities each month?
- Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished?
- What type of flooring is there (carpet, hardwood, tile, etc.)?
- Is there a stove? Is there a refrigerator?
- Is there air conditioning?
- Are there laundry facilities?
- What type of parking is available (garage, off-street parking, on-street parking)?
- How soon will the apartment be available?
Once you have moved in, your main responsibilities are to pay rent on time (use checks only or online bill pay with your bank; do not pay with cash) and keep the property in a clean and safe condition. Once your landlord has received your monthly payment, he/she should send you a receipt for your payment.
While you have responsibilities to pay rent and keep the property in good condition, your landlord has responsibilities too. If you believe the landlord is treating you differently than he would treat an American student, or if the landlord is not keeping the property in working condition, be proactive in addressing the issue(s). Do not endure negligence from your landlord. Insist that the apartment is in a safe, clean, livable condition. Otherwise, you are inviting the landlord to take advantage of you. If you have problems with your landlord, it is a good idea to photograph the contested areas of the apartment which are in disrepair. In addition, put all of your complaints in writing, send your landlord a copy, and keep a copy of your complaints for your own files. If the problems are not resolved, consider taking legal action.