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Renting Information

Please contact the Office of Off-Campus Living at (512) 245-5595 for all issues regarding off campus housing.

Attorney for Students is happy to review your lease before you sign.

Forms/Documents

Must Ask Questions (PDF, 227.5 KB) - List of important questions to ask the landlord/apartment complex BEFORE you sign the lease.

Moving In & Out Inventory Form (PDF, 156.9 KB) - A downloadable form that may be used (if such forms are not provided by your management) within 48 hours of move-in and upon move-out.

  • Should be completed while the apartment is still empty.
  • After you have completed this form, each resident and the manager/leasing agent should sign it.
  • Keep a copy for your records.

Tenants Rights Pamphlet (PDF, 563.6 KB) - The Tenants' Rights Handbook which was prepared as a public service by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Renting Together Contract (PDF, 54.5 KB) - A contract for roommates who are sharing an apartment. Provides link to a Texas housing website answering commonly asked questions involving renting.

Landlord Tenant Guide (PDF, 848.8 KB) - Landlord-tenant guide prepared by an attorney on behalf of the Real Estate Center at Texas A & M University.
 
The Lease - Powerpoint presentation with information about researching apartments, creating a budget, choosing roommates, applying for the unit, signing the lease, requesting repairs, and moving out
 
Demand Letter Template - Easy to use demand letter template with instructions and examples.  Use this letter whenever you need to request a repair or notify the landlord about an issue.  The instruction sheet will help you research the owner's name and teach you how to mail the letter using Certified Mail and a Return Receipt. 
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How do I start looking for a place to live off-campus?

Use review sites like yelp.com and apartments.com to see tenant's compliments and complaints about the location. Ask friends, classmates and teachers about their living arrangements. Take a tour of places you are interested in. Remember, when renting, the model apartments shown will not necessarily look anything like the apartment you're assigned.

 

How do I find roommates?

Friends, classmates, online ads, and roommate matching programs are easy ways to keep down renting costs.  Some apartment complexes offer roommate matching programs, but they are not scientific and cannot ensure compatible matching. To avoid the worst problems, ask any potential roommate a series of questions to determine if your lifestyles are compatible, and develop a roommate agreement.

Will I need a cosigner or guarantor?

Probably. Almost all apartment complexes in San Marcos require you to have a cosigner or guarantor.  If you cannot find one, you will still have to pay rent but you cannot move in until you do. This can be confusing and every year, problems arise from not reading, fully understanding the legal jargon, and negotiating a lease.  The safest thing to do is obtain a cosigner or guarantor and ask AFS to review your lease before signing.

 

May I bring my pet?

Maybe. Each apartment complex is different and you should contact the complex with pet questions BEFORE you sign the lease. The landlord is allowed to have weight/size restrictions, require a substantial pet deposit fee, may charge "pet rent", and charge you for any damages caused by your pet after you leave. Even if the landlord does not ordinarily allow pets, Federal Fair Housing laws require landlords to make exceptions for service and emotional support animals.  Please remember, having a pet is a big, often expensive responsibility.  Before bringing a pet to college, ask yourself if it is the best choice for the pet. 

Am I allowed to use drugs in my bedroom?

Illegal drugs are illegal. There is no safe zone in an apartment or house. If you wish to use illegal drugs in your bedroom, your roommates have the right and responsibility to notify the landlord and the police. You can be evicted and arrested for using or possessing illegal drugs in your apartment.

Which complex offers the best amenities (pools, gyms, computer rooms, tanning beds, furnishings)?

College town apartment complexes often try to outdo each other with the latest and greatest in resort-style amenities. Even if the amenities are promised, apartments do not ever have to provide them.  Apartment leases NEVER guarantee shuttle bus access, uninterrupted internet service, clean pools, or adequate parking. Remember, research, ask around and visit actual properties before deciding where to live.  Most importantly, bring your lease to AFS so we can review it before you sign.

How do I break my lease?

You don't. Once you've signed a lease in Texas, you're stuck with it. There are only two legal ways to break a lease without penalty:  (1) if you can prove you are a victim of domestic violence and have a protective order; or (2) if you are in the military and deployed or re-assigned for more than 90 consecutive days. If you are divorced, lose your job, get kicked out of school, or even DIE, the lease is still valid and you and your cosigner are still responsible. Do not sign the lease until you are 100% certain that you wish to live there.

What do I do if my apartment manager/landlord is not responding?

The law does not require people to be nice. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly or unprofessionally, write a letter to the owner of the company and tell them exactly what happened. E-mail contact does not count! If you never complain about rude or inefficient staff, the owner may never find out there is a problem. If the apartment complex or landlord is a member of the Achieving Community Together (ACT) program, report the problem to Off-Campus Living.

Does the landlord have to maintain the amenities (pools, security gates, laundry, etc.)?

No. Texas law does not require the landlords to provide you with any amenities ever.  The pools, gyms, computer rooms, security gates, shuttle busses, etc. are perks that can be given and taken away freely by the landlord, and the lease isn't affected at all.  The only thing guaranteed by a lease is the apartment itself.  

Moral of the story: Don't lease somewhere just because they have the nicest pool. 

Can You Afford to Rent?
Tips to Create a Realistic Budget for Living Expenses

money roll Monthly Rent:

This should not vary from month to month, your lease will specify exactly how much rent you owe each month.  Remember that most leases last 12 months, but your financial aid award only covers nine months of rent. How will you pay all 12 months?

light bulb

Utilities:

Many leases will include the cost of cable, internet, and water.  Other bills include electricity, gas and parking.  Assume $50-70 per person for electricity, $15 per person for water and $10 per person for gas.  If you will be living alone, estimate $120 for electricity and $30 for water. You will also have to pay utility deposits to put each bill in your name. Usually $150-$400 for electric alone.

gas nozzle

Travel:

You will need to get to/from school, work and the grocery store.  Make certain the complex is on the bus loop if you don’t plan to have a car.  If you have a car, plan at least $60 per month for gasoline to get you to/from school, and perhaps $50 for parking. Registration fees, oil changes, and repairs should be considered as well.

grocery bag

Groceries:

Estimate at least $400 per month for food, cleaning supplies and necessities (ex: toilet paper, deodorant, hairspray, contact solution).  $400 is not a lot of money and only gives you about $13 per day to spend; even if you plan on taking your lunch, $13 won’t get you far.

inner tube

Life Expenses:

Do you ever want to have fun?  If so, plan at least $150 per month for tubing the river, eating out, attending a show, or watching a sports event.  Also, setting aside $20 every month in savings is a good way to protect yourself in case of unexpected life expenses like a trip to the dentist for a broken tooth, fixing a flat tire, replacing a stolen cell phone or paying a parking ticket.

 

Renting with Roommates

Living with roommates, even strangers, can be a good experience if you plan ahead and make mature decisions.  Even great friends will have disagreements over lifestyles, cleaning methods, bill paying, and food sharing.  A renting together agreement is a great way to memorialize basic rules and prevent future disagreements.  This agreement will specify things like what days bills must be paid, who will pay for what, how long friends can stay over, if food will be shared and who cleans what when. Above all—good communication is the key!

It’s easy to sign a lease with friends and assume everything will work out great, but even the best of friends can have dramatically different ideas about home lifestyle.  The lease doesn’t deal with any of those problems and the landlord is not responsible for you getting along with your roommates.  Here are questions to ask yourself before choosing roommates:

1. Do I trust this person?
Only live with that person if your answer is an emphatic YES.

2. Am I willing to put up with this person's habits?
You may be willing to accept a friend’s bad habits from afar, but do you really want to live with them?  It’s one thing to know your friend likes to smoke weed or hook up with strangers, it’s completely another to have them doing those things in your apartment.  You don't want to become a prisoner in your bedroom.

3. Is my schedule compatible with this person's?
A morning person who works standard hours may not live comfortably with a night owl who prefers to stay up late and cook dinner at 3 a.m.  Even the most considerate of roommates can be heard through thin apartment walls when they enter/leave, cook, shower and watch TV.

4. Do I want to remain friends with this person?
A friend who doesn’t pay their share of the bills isn’t much of a friend. You know your friend’s flaws and you accept them as they are; however that doesn’t mean you’d want to live with them.  A friend who you love to party with may be a great person to hang out with on a Saturday night, but not so wonderful on a Monday morning.  Can you afford to have a freeloading roommate?

 

Email does not count!