Signing the Right Lease


One of the most important things you have to do when moving off campus or out on your own is signing the right lease for you.  A lease is a binding legal contract between you and your landlord. The lease spells out the specific details concerning deposits, fees, pets, legal entry and other important information. The lease gives the landlord the right to take legal action against you if you break the lease.

The two major lease types are joint (traditional) lease and individual lease. A joint lease means all roommates are responsible for the lease. If one roommate breaks the lease, the total rent and fees are still due from the remaining roommates. The joint lease is most common for renting a house or a single-family dwelling.

The individual lease means each person is responsible for his or her own part of the fees and rent. If one roommate breaks the lease, that roommate is still responsible for his or her fees and rent.  The landlord has to go after the one roommate that broke the lease and not the remaining roommates. The individual lease is the best choice for college students. These lease types are most commonly used in communities that lease per bedroom.  There is a common area of the apartment, but each roommate has their own private bedroom and bathroom.

Make sure you understand what type of lease you are signing and keep the papers in a safe place while you are renting. You will most likely need a copy of the lease when you are ready to move out.

Individual Leases vs Traditional Leases

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.