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.
Austin Tenants Council
Call 512-474-7006 to make an appointment for a 30-minute consultation.
Address and hours of operation will be determined when the appointment is made.
Hays County residents and Texas State students must go to Austin to meet with someone from the Austin Tenants Council in-person. The Austin Tenants council does not have an office in San Marcos. There are satellite offices in East Austin, but the Austin Tenants Council is in transition and students will have to get the office address information when they make the appointment of the phone.
Call 512-474-1961 to make a 3-5 minute consultation.
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & Monday through Thursday, 1-4 p.m.
To make an appointment for an online consultation, visit the Austin Tenants Council webpage.
Research. Walk, bike, or drive around town. Use websites like yelp.com, apartments.com, findapartmentsandmore.com and others. Ask friends, classmates, teachers, resident assistants, and teaching assistants about their living arrangements. Take a tour of places you are interested in. You can also ask an apartment locator to help you narrow down your options. The service is free!
Probably. Almost all apartment complexes in San Marcos require you to have a cosigner or guarantor. The safest thing to do is obtain a cosigner or guarantor and ask the Office of the Attorney for Students to review your lease before you sign it.
Research. Ask friends, classmates, dorm roommates, Resident Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and others. To avoid problems, ask any potential roommate a series of questions to determine if your lifestyles are compatible, and then, develop a roommate agreement.
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.
No. 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.
Under Texas law, tenants have to put everything they request, and all communications, "in writing". If you want something repaired, for example, you must write an actual, old fashioned letter to the manager, owner, or landlord. Explain what you need, offer a solution, and give a time frame of when you'd like the issue resolved. When you write the letter it has to be through "snail mail". Make sure to sign and date the letter, put your return address and the address of the recipient on the envelope, stamp it, and drop it in a mailbox (not the drop box at the leasing office). The communication has to be "in writing", which means you have to go through the steps above, and send it through the United States Postal Service. E-mail does not count!
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.
-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.