Signing A Lease
Signing a lease is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Signing a lease is committing to the apartment! A lease is a legally binding document you cannot get out of if you change your mind. Once again, DO NOT RUSH into signing a lease if you are considering applying to be an RA, leaving ISU, or studying abroad next school year.
When thinking about off-campus housing, there are two types of leases to consider.
1. Individual Lease: An individual lease allows all roommates to sign their OWN lease. Each roommate under an individual lease is responsible for their own rent. So, if a roommate does not pay their rent, the other roommates will not be held responsible for the rent. Example: If your roommate does not pay their $400 in rent, you will still only have your $400 to pay.
2. Joint lease: You are all responsible jointly for the lease. Therefore, the landlord can hold the other roommates responsible for the cost if a roommate does not pay their rent or utilities. Example: If your only roommate does not pay their $400 in rent, you are responsible not only for your $400, but also theirs. Your total payment is now $800.
There is also a "Co-Signer" lease which requires having a parent or guardian to sign the lease as well. They will be responsible for paying the rent if you do not. Example: You did not pay your $400 in rent, so now your parents will receive a bill in the mail to pay.
– In some cases, if all parties have their parents as a co-signer, then the joint lease will be treated like an individual lease.
– Some parents are unwilling or unable to be a co-signer which means you must find a company that doesn't require one. Please contact Leadership and Community Connections at LCC.DOS@IllinoisState.edu or (309)438-7346 for assistance if this is your situation; they can provide specific recommendations.
– If you are unable to have a parent or guardian sign your lease and your lease has a "guaranty clause", you are likely required to pay a substantial proportion of your rent in advance prior to receiving a key to the apartment. Example: the total rent for your two person apartment is $10,000. Your roommate has his guardian cosign the lease so he is allowed to pay monthly, but you will have to pay $2,500 upfront at the beginning of the lease.
Sublease: If you cannot live in the apartment for any reason, you will have to find someone to sublease the apartment. This means a person would take over the remaining duration of your lease agreement. The Off-Campus Housing Database is a great tool to use when trying to find a subleaser.
Leases typically allow landlords to enter the apartment at what is termed "reasonable" time for inspection, maintenance, or to show the apartment to prospective tenants. This often causes consternation for the tenants who have either not read the lease, or do not understand the consequences of the "right of entry" paragraph contained within the lease.
You should always have an attorney look over your lease. The Dean of Students Office has a Students' Attorney who will do free lease reviews!!! Set up an appointment to discuss your lease before you sign it by calling 309-438-2008.
Miscellaneous Items to Remember
- Make sure all roommates sign the lease at the same time. This protects you from someone backing out and you being stuck with a multi-person lease.
- A lease could be 10, 11, or 12 months. Pay attention if you don't want to pay summer rent. If you need a summer sublease, remember to post on the Off-Campus Housing Database.
- Rent usually begins payment on April 1, even if you do not move in until August 15. Be sure to plan your budget accordingly.
- Most leases have a clause about number of nights you can have guests over; this usually isn't a problem unless your roommate gets annoyed.
- Most apartments around ISU are furnished. Make sure you confirm in the lease before signing.
- There may be less parking spaces than roommates. Be sure you know who is bringing a car and if you need to identify additional parking.