First you will need to select where you would like to live. No matter where you choose to live, be sure to inspect the living conditions for safety, access to public transportation, parking availability if you have a car, etc. Ensure the home you choose will be conducive to your academic success and general wellness. You can also visit CORT (furniture Rental Company) for a more comprehensive list of apartment considerations.
After you have chosen where you will be living you can begin the leasing process. The lease is a legal agreement between you and your landlord outlining the specific responsibilities for each party. It is crucial to review the lease thoroughly prior to signing the document. Please review the “Guide to Living Off-Campus for International Students” for more thorough information regarding the lease document.
Prior to signing a lease, potential landlord may ask you to complete an application (especially in large apartment complexes) or to allow a credit check to be done on your credit history. Here is where international students may run into an obstacle. The credit check is conducted using a social security number. International students typically do not have social security numbers. Thus, the landlord may refuse to rent the apartment to you because of concerns that you will not pay the rent. Potential solutions to this situation are:
- A guarantor. A guarantor is someone with a social security
number and with a good credit history who will co-sign the lease with you. By
co-signing the lease, the guarantor agrees to pay your rent if you fail to do
so. If neither you nor the guarantor pay the obligations of the lease, the
landlord can sue both of you. In the case of the guarantor, the landlord could
garnish his wages (using his social security number) to make him pay. Thus, the
guarantor must trust you to pay the rent on time.
- Paying for several months or rent
in advance. The landlord may be willing to rent to you if you pay for three
months (or more) in advance. For example, you intend to sign a lease starting
in August that will end the following July at the rate of $800 per month. You
can suggest to the landlord that you will pay three months’ rent as deposit
($800 x 3 = $2400), and pay for every month’s rent on the first of the month
starting August 1 through April 1. Then, you will use the deposit to pay for
the last three months of the lease (and you would not pay any additional rent
for May, June, or July). Note that landlords associated with “house to share,”
or “room for rent,” or with smaller apartment complexes may be more flexible
than those from larger apartment complexes.
Landlords will screen your application and will determine if the application is approved. Once the application is approved, you will be able to sign the lease (the lease will tell you when your move-in date is).
In summary a typical leasing process may look like this:
- Find a residence
- Fill out an application (there may be fees associated with the application, you may also be asked to pay a security deposit)
- If your application is approved you will be given a lease to sign (the landlord will screen the application- typically looking at credit, income, past renting history, etc.)
- READ the lease and understand the terms
- Once you have signed the lease you are legally bound to the terms/conditions and will be able to begin your move-in process (Don’t forget to keep a copy of your signed lease)