As you may have already discovered there are two variations of leases offered when looking for an apartment. There is an Individual Lease and a Traditional Lease.
Individual Leases, sometimes referred to as “By the Bed” leases offer students the flexibility of sharing a 2, 3, or 4 bedroom apartment with roommates, while only being responsible to pay your share of the rent for your bedroom. The advantages of this type of lease is that if a roommate cannot pay their portion of the rent, you are not responsible for it. If they move out, you are also not responsible to cover their portion. Many of these type of leases are for a private bedroom as well as a private bathroom. You share the common areas of that apartment with roommates such as the kitchen and living areas. The management staff may offer to find the roommates for you, or they may offer the renter to bring in their desired roommates.
Traditional Leases, or “By the Apartment” leases, are for the entire apartment, not just the bedroom. If you choose to live with roommates, it is up to you to split the costs associated with rent. If a roommate cannot pay their portion one month you are responsible to cover their share as well.
There are many communities around Gainesville offering both of these leases. Do your homework and decide what is best for you before you sign a lease.