How to approach signing a housing lease

Photo by: Tasha LundLocal student housing representatives give away free items during the housing fair exhibition.

William Price

Ready or not, leasing season is upon Georgia Southern University students as housing vendors aim to sign as many students on as possible for fall 2013.

This past Tuesday, housing agents from every apartment complex and rental service in Statesboro gathered in the Russell Union to show off their brand and court the signatures of GSU students.

It can be tempting to sign the first contract presented and be done with it, but with a little effort and help from an experienced professional in the housing field students can be prepared going in to sign a lease and come out with a fair deal.

“It’s extremely important to remember that all terms you see on leases and contracts are negotiable. They are not final by any means,” Joe Ruhland, assistant professor in department of finance and economics, said.

Students should also know that their ability to negotiate is determined by the demand for what they are negotiating for. Don’t try to negotiate if there is a line of people behind you, Ruhland said.

“A common mistake students make is not understanding or reading what is in a lease before they sign it, when they need to pay rent by and other important details,” Margaret Hudson, property manager at the Premier Management Group in Statesboro, said.

“I recommend all potential leasers to read up on their tenant rights in Georgia. The rules vary state-by-state. Get yourself informed and a step ahead of the curve,” Ruhland said.

Many students don’t think about the secondary costs of living off-campus. Things like parking passes, utilities and damage charges can add up fast, Hudson said.

Every person has a different list of priorities when looking for housing. Some of the key priorities are proximity to campus, whether the property is pet friendly and if utilities are included in the rent, Hudson said.

Current freshmen who have not dealt with signing leases and contracts are at a greater disadvantage when searching for a place to live.

“My advice to a freshmen would be to constantly weigh your options. Don’t just live where your friends live. Really think about it and make an educated decision. Take your time,” Christina Gondry, junior geology major, said.