As you begin looking at the options, find out the basics:
- Look for online reviews and news articles about the neighborhood and the complex or building.
- Ask current or previous tenants about their experiences.
- Learn about the application process and whether you’ll be charged a fee to apply.
- Tour the property before signing the lease. Ask questions and take photos. If you aren’t able to take the tour, have a roommate or someone you trust to go in your place.
Signing the Lease and Moving In
- Remember that a lease is a binding contract
- Read the entire lease before you sign. Signing a lease indicates you have agreed to all its conditions.
- Take pictures and note any damage to the property before you move in so you will not be held accountable for it when you leave.
Make a monthly trial budget that includes your monthly income and recurring expenses:
- Rent and utilities
- Renter’s insurance
- Tuition, books and supplies, parking, food, entertainment, etc.
Before You Sign
A few questions upfront can prevent problems later on
- When is rent due and how do I pay? How much are late fees? When do they apply?
- Are any utilities included in the rent?
- Under what circumstances will you enter the property without notice?
- Where can I park? Is there a parking fee? Is guest parking available?
- Can I sublet if needed?
- What is the process and timeline for renewing or not renewing the lease?
- How do you handle emergency repairs?
- How much is the security deposit? What factors are considered in refunding deposits?
- Your landlord’s insurance will not cover your personal belongings.
- Renter’s insurance helps you replace your belongings if they are stolen or unexpectedly damaged, such as in a fire.
- It’s not that expensive, and some properties require it.
This list is not exhaustive, but it will provide a good starting place as you plan.
Questions? If you’re considering commuting to UT or already living off-campus, we’re here to help! You’ll find lots of useful information at offcampushousing.utk.edu, or stop by with any questions or concerns.