Most college students rent an apartment or house while attending school, usually with a roommate or two. The housing is often less than ideal, but it makes rent more affordable while you worry about mounting student debt and living expenses.
Finding a good apartment with a fair landlord isn’t easy. Landlords tend to be pretty selective when renting to college students, and rental properties surrounding college campuses are competitive. If you don’t move quickly, you’re likely to miss out on a good deal.
Learning the secrets is one of the best ways to get a good deal on your apartment. Here are some things landlords don’t want you to find out.
1. They’re making a lot of money on your rent.
The popularity of renting is increasing everywhere, but especially in college communities. Landlords can typically raise the rent on your property without ruffling too many feathers. The market is so competitive that incremental increases won’t stop the applications from coming in.
If you’re sharing the rent cost with three other people, the profits are even higher. Instead of charging one family $1,200 for a three bedroom unit, they charge each person $500, bringing their total to $1,500. And unless your contract stipulates differently, they can raise the rent on you at any time.
The best thing you can do is sign a contract that has your rent price locked in either until you move or for a lengthy period of time, such as two years.
2. The government regulates a lot of their processes.
Landlords will tell you things like no pets and no Section 8 housing vouchers. However, your local, state, or federal government might make a different mandate. If you present a doctor’s note stating that you need an emotional support animal, your landlord is legally obligated to allow it.
Research local government regulations surrounding rentals in your community. You might be surprised what you can do according to law, even if your landlord tells you no.
3. They often don’t know what they’re doing.
Although your landlord made you fill out a lengthy application with a background check and references, you don’t get to return the favor. In many cases, your landlord will be inexperienced at best, even though you have no way of knowing ahead of time.
Whether they’re renting until they can sell their house or they’re new investors without a clue, you’re stuck with this person as your landlord, even if they’re slow with repairs and don’t always adhere to rental laws.
Unfortunately, there’s very little government control over landlord affairs, which is how so many novice landlords get the job. However, you can discuss your options with an attorney or simply threaten to sue if they aren’t keeping their half of the bargain. No landlord wants a legal battle, so a well-founded threat often does the trick.
4. You have certain inviolate rights to your privacy.
It’s true that your apartment is the property of your landlord, which gives them certain rights to walk in at a given time. However, they are required by law to notify you within a reasonable amount of time before coming in.
Additionally, they cannot rifle through your things or take what’s yours. These privacy rights are founded by law no matter where you live.
5. This rental might be illegal.
You might consider checking the zoning laws of a potential residence before signing the lease. Zoning laws may prohibit residential or rental properties in a certain part of town, and if your landlord has ignored or is unaware of those laws, you could be living somewhere illegally.
While you won’t get in trouble if your landlord is discovered, you will have to move. Moving in the middle of a stressful semester at school is hardly worth the risk.
6. You can get your full deposit back as long as you meet the terms of your lease agreement.
Most renters are used to having a portion of their deposit deducted when they move out, and many landlords will take some of your deposit, even if they have no cause. However, you’re required by law to get your full deposit back if you don’t violate the lease. Usually, all you have to do is leave it clean and undamaged, and you’ll see the full check.
Furthermore, there are laws regulating the amount, and once in hand, the deposit is protected. It must go into a special account where it can’t be touched until you move out.
Unfortunately, some landlords ignore this rule, and you don’t always get your full deposit back as a result. If you’re concerned about it, ask your landlord what he does with your deposit before handing it over.
An informed tenant is more likely to get a good deal on their housing. Keep these secrets in mind as you go house hunting next semester!