The Attorney for Students office is happy to review your lease before you sign it.
Can You Afford to 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 can be a good experience if you plan ahead and make mature decisions. Even great friends will have disagreements over lifestyles, cleaning methods, paying bills 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!
Here are questions to ask yourself before choosing roommates:
- Do I trust this person?
- Only live with that person if your answer is an emphatic YES.
- Am I willing to put up with this person's habits?
- You may be willing to accept a friend’s bad habits from afar, like not cleaning dishes, or playing loud music late at night, but do you really want to live with them? You can prevent problems by setting out expectations before you move in together, and use a renting together agreement.
- Is my schedule compatible with this person?
- 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. Again, create and use a renting together agreement.
Have You Written Your Landlord?
If there is something that you want the landlord to repair, you MUST write them a letter and mail it with a stamp. Emails, phone calls, online requests, hand-delivered letters, text messages, in-person meetings, etc. do NOT count as giving the landlord notice. Students lose money and live in horrible conditions every year because they do not know that they have to mail a letter for everything. There are no exceptions to this law.
Texas law does not require the landlord to repair any and all problems in the apartment/house. The only things that the landlord MUST repair are items which have a serious effect on your physical health or safety. Conditions which are annoying, ugly or inefficient are not required to be fixed.
Texas law gives the landlord 7 days to fix or begin to fix repairing health or safety problems.
-This form should be completed while the apartment is empty.
-After you have completed this form, each resident and the manager/leasing agent should sign it.
-Keep a copy for your records.