I’m renting my first apartment this year and want to know as much as possible before entering into any sort of commitment. How does an apartment lease work?

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First off, you’ve come to the right place when it comes to gathering information to help make a better, more informed decision when searching for apartments in Gainesville! I’m impressed that you’re going out there and conducting your own research – entering into a legally binding contract, such as a lease, is an important decision and you should consider all of the different factors and rules before signing on that dotted line.

Starting off with some basic knowledge, apartments are generally arranged in complexes, or buildings, and they are individually leased out to individuals who are responsible for paying rent on a month-to-month basis. A lease lays out the rules and responsibilities agreed upon between the leasing agent and the tenant (you).

The lease most importantly defines the length of the rental period, how much the tenant will pay each month (and on what day). Additionally, the lease may include specific details regarding a security deposit that will cover any damage incurred to the property during the tenant’s stay. The cost to repair damage, if any exists, will be deducted from the security deposit and the remaining money is returned after the tenant moves out. Leases may state the policies regarding overnight guests, pool privileges, and parking lot access. Finding parking in a college town can be tricky at times and many Gainesville apartments come with a set of parking guidelines for both residents and visitors. Be sure to look these rules over to avoid any potential problems, such as expensive towing fees. These contracts also define who is responsible for maintenance and repairs and whether utilities are covered by the tenant or by the leasing agent. The lease also lists everyone who lives in the apartment, but this doesn’t make the leasing agent held responsible for any internal roommate conflicts.

The lease offers a clear and specific written record, so if any questions or concerns come up regarding the terms of living in your apartment you are able to approach the leasing agent with a reference. While the leasing agent benefits from the lease, the document helps you out too: the rental rate is locked-in and there is a statement of your renter’s rights.

General Tips

1. Read the lease carefully. Don’t be afraid to questions if you don’t understand something.
2. If you disagree with a section of the lease, talk to the leasing agent. They are open to compromise as long as you act professional and your request is within reason.
3. Be sure that you and the leasing agent both initial and date any changes that are made to the lease.
4. Leasing time is the perfect opportunity to make a roommate contract. Outline how you and your roommates will divvy the bills, chores and maintenance to avoid any potential conflicts.
5. If you have any pets, be sure to ask for details before moving in. Every community differs on its policy regarding pets, and there may be certain weight restrictions or even a charged fee or “pet deposit” required.

While I hope you enjoy living in your apartment, certain situations may require early termination of your lease. Rental terms are specified in the lease and if you choose to end the agreement early you may be held responsible for the remaining monthly costs. The lease might contain a “buyout clause” which is a fixed cost you must pay in order to void the lease. Sometimes, the leasing agent just holds onto the security deposit. If the leasing agent violates terms of the lease, such as repairs are not being made in a reasonable amount of time and the tenant has a written record of their requests, the tenant is free to move out. College students also have the option of saving money by subleasing their apartment over the summer when they are away at internships or on vacation.

Use Swamp Rentals to find apartments in Gainesville that fits your lifestyle and budget. Now that you’ve learned all about how a lease works, use the interactive search feature to explore the listed communities and to find a match that you are confident and ready to commit to. Happy apartment hunting!

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of SwampRentals.com or any of our advertising partners.