Whether you find housing on- or off-campus, it is important to know that leases are legally binding. Be cautious when signing leases and other contracts, and renters should read the details of the lease before signing. The amount of rent cannot be changed during the lease, and the move-in and move-out dates are firm. Renters who break the lease (move out before the lease ends) might find future landlords less willing to rent to them.
Most housing requires a security deposit and the first month’s rent when a renter moves in. Security deposits are given to the landlord to cover any damage to the rental property beyond ‘normal wear and tear’, and are typically around a month’s rent. When the renter moves out, the security deposit is returned in full or in part depending on cleanliness and on any damage found. It is highly recommended that renters take pictures or videos of housing before move-in and after move-out. Common things to document are doors and walls (dings, dents, and chips), carpet (stains, age), appliances, cupboards and countertops, and anything else damageable. Having this evidence during move-out can mitigate or prevent renters from losing their security deposit. Financially, it is generally advisable to have three times the rent available at move-in. This covers the security deposit and rent for the first and second month, all of which might be due before a paycheck arrives.