Student Rental 101
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Student Housing: Understanding the Key Documents

No one rents an apartment based on a handshake. We live in a world that is full of binding legal documents. It is very common for students to fill out a number of documents when applying for student housing. Therefore, it is imperative that students understand the documents they are filling out and the terms they are agreeing to. A property management company will help students understand the terms of the agreements they are signing and clear up any misunderstands they may have. There are three main documents that students need to familiarize themselves with: The tenant application, the guarantor form, and the lease agreement. Each of these documents plays a large role in a student's ability to secure student housing and live within the guidelines of their agreement.

The Tenant Application

Students are required to:

  • Indicate the location they are applying for
  • Provide basic information about themselves
  • Understand any parameters that are outlined in the document
    • Is the residence a smoke free environment?
    • What are the conditions upon moving in and moving out?
  • Understand liability and insurance requirements

Property management companies tend to have a standardized application process for student housing, and provide additional information on their website to help students with this process.

The Guarantor Form

Students are often required to include a guarantor form along with their student housing application. A guarantor form is very similar to getting a co-signer for a mortgage. It ensures the landlord will get paid if a tenant does not pay the rent. In the majority of cases, a student's parents act as the guarantor. Therefore, if you do not pay your rent, expect your landlord to call your parents. Nobody wants that to happen!

The guarantor form requires:

  • Students to find a guarantor before the lease can be finalized
  • The guarantor to agree to pay outstanding rent if the tenant does not pay

The Lease

The lease outlines the specific conditions for occupants are expected to abide by when occupying student housing. Leases can be tricky documents, therefore students must ensure they have a clear understanding before they sign any lease.

The Lease will outline:

  • The required deposit and method of monthly rent payment (i.e. post dated cheques)
  • The date of each monthly payment (and the NSF charge if a cheque does not clear)
  • When occupants can take possession, subletting stipulations, key and locks
  • The care of the premises
  • Guidelines for when the landlord can enter your unit
  • Insurance
  • How notices will be communicated to tenants/the landlord
  • Specific rules and regulations that tenants are expected to abide by. For example:
    • Repairs
    • Number of tenants
    • Garbage
    • Pets
    • Parking
    • Snow removal

Take the time and read over the lease carefully. Ask questions about any clauses that you do not understand. If you and the landlord decide to change anything in the lease, ensure you both sign off on the change and get a copy. Most importantly, always get a copy of the lease and keep it handy if any student housing issues arise.