Lease Signing Tips

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Landlords vary greatly in competence and responsibility. If you don't know your landlord well, choose a landlord who has a history of providing professional service. That quality is essential.

If you decide to live off Grounds, do not let yourself be rushed. And take advantage of our experience and let us review the lease before you sign.

  • Talk to the current tenants about the property and about the landlord. Ask specific questions (e.g. does the basement flood?).
  • If the property, or your walk to school and back from the property (at night!) seem unsafe, look elsewhere.
  • Insurance! Insurance! Insurance! The apartment should be insured to indemnify you in the event of a covered loss to your personal property and protect you in the event you are responsible for bodily injury or property damage to others. Check to see if your parent's homeowner's insurance covers the apartment. Otherwise, obtain renter's insurance!
  • All roommates should sign the lease, and sign it at the same time. Once you sign the lease, you are bound to all of its terms, including the payment of all of the rent for the entire term of the lease.
  • If you and the landlord agree to a provision that is not stated in the lease, write it into the lease and have everyone add their initials beside it.
  • Fill in all the blanks on the lease.
  • Your landlord may deduct preexisting damages from your security deposit after you move out. To be able to defend against this problem, fill out a Move-In Condition report noting all defects and return it to the landlord by certified mail within five days of moving in, and keep a copy. Take photos and/or video of the condition of the property when you move in and when you move out.
  • Student Legal Services will be happy to review a lease without charge. It is important to know whether the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act applies to the lease. Call 924-7524 for an appointment.
  • Forms available from Student Legal Services:
    • model lease
    • model sublease
    • roommate agreement
    • move-in condition form.