After students finish freshman year, most decide to move out of their residence halls and into apartments. Many of these students go into apartment-hunting with little know-how or assistance. Texas State has several resources students can use to avoid situations such as getting stuck in a bad lease.
- Know what an individual lease is
Margaret Yackel, coordinator of Achieving Community Together and off-campus living, has met with students every year trying to sort out how to choose an apartment. Most apartments in the area function as individual lease apartments due to San Marcos being a college-town.
“When you are going into an individual lease, each roommate signs their own lease and roommate matching is available. So, if you have an individual lease, you don’t have to worry about if a roommate moves out. It’s going to be one price and you’re going to be set with that all the way through. The downfall is that they don’t prorate you in and prorate you out,” Yackel said.
Yackel explains that with prorating you are “locked in” to a certain price divided between the months you live there. Prorating is different to conventional apartments which only make you pay for the days that you live in that apartment.
- Visit with an Attorney
Sylvia Holmes, private attorney, explains the importance of taking your lease to an attorney, especially if you notice something strange about either the lease or the apartment itself.
“Don’t wait,” Holmes said. “If something is concerning you, call your attorney and find out because you can get 19 different versions from front desk staffers.”
Texas State has an Attorney for Students office that will look over a prospective lease. The service is paid already by student fees each semester.
- Don’t sign a lease too early
Yackel also explains signing a lease too early can be detrimental. You don’t want to sign a lease before you have looked at several other apartments and gone over the lease with an attorney.
“Don’t sign a new lease for the next year until after you get your first grades, until you make sure that you are going to continue at Texas State because once you lock into that lease (you’re stuck),” said Yackel
Make sure to check with prospective apartment complexes about signing leases early- some apartment complexes will have lower rent for residents who sign in January and February.
- Take photos/videos of new apartment
Holmes also explains the importance of recording and taking photos of any damages apparent in the apartment the day you move in.
“The best thing students have now is an instant way to prove the state of the apartment. Turn on your cell phone and make a video tape the day you walk in and then write down any and all mistakes and then make a copy. I recommend to my clients: take your cell phone out and take photographs and a video especially if you notice damage. Immediately email them to yourself, a roommate, or a family member so that you have a digital record,” Holmes said.
- Plan with future roommates
Angeles Blanco, a criminal justice senior, has lived in a few different apartments while attending Texas State. She has also lived with several different roommates. She explains the importance of making a plan with your new roommates.
“Make sure your friends/roommates are okay with the decision you all come to and they’re not agreeing just to satisfy your call. You are living together for 11 months so make sure that you all are pleased with the apartment,” Blanco said.
Since you are stuck in an apartment with your roommates for the majority of the year, make sure everyone is on the same page with what goes on in your new home.