Signing a lease for an apartment without understanding the lease can be dangerous, but there are resources available to help students better understand their agreement.
The Attorney for Students is located in the LBJ Student Center. The attorneys can help students with legal questions by providing insight and advice on what to do.
The attorneys will review leases and housing documents for students. Students must make an appointment to talk to an attorney.
Kama Davis, attorney for students, said before an appointment, students should bring all unsigned paper copies of their leases.
“Our focus is to prevent problems and explain how rent-by-the-bed installment loan contracts differ from traditional leases,” Davis said.
Students can take steps to prevent issues from occurring like doing research on rent-by-the-bed, avoid signing papers in a rush which will end up costing money, and not get sucked into hard sell advertising.
Before signing, students need to know the difference between rent-by-the-bed installment contracts and traditional leases. Installment contracts have to be paid out over 12 months, in equal installments like rent but students do not necessarily live there all 12 months. Traditional leases are where tenants pay a certain monthly rent for a specified amount of time, and some places offer prorated rent for partial months.
Students should learn how to use resources like apartment locators to find what the complexes provide, what pro-rated rent is and why rent-by-the-bed usually does not have it. They also need to understand whether security deposits are charged and how security deposits protect tenants.
Rent-by-the-bed properties offer benefits such as being on the bus route, offering roommate matching, and providing furnished apartments.
Many traditional apartments are also on the bus route, but tenants find roommates on their own and may not have the option to rent a furnished apartment. In a traditional lease, the tenant is responsible for all rent, even if a roommate defaults on a payment.
Kevin Proctor, accounting senior said he had an issue with a policy change at his apartment complex and sought help from the attorney for students.
“The attorney said that if they were changing policy I should have to sign new documents,” Proctor said. “The apartment owners have been slow to fix the last issue but it is reassuring to know I have some legal rights in this situation.”
Leah Lanphear, English sophomore, said her visit was well worth it.
“The advice was worth taking the time to talk to her. Plus if you’re curious about law school they are very helpful,” Lanphear said.
There is usually a two-to three-week wait for an appointment.
Students must contact the office to make an appointment, give details of their issue, bring relevant documents with them and consult with the attorneys for 50 minutes.
Each case is tailored to the needs of the student, and because Attorney for Students does not represent in court, students may be referred to outside resources.