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Signing a Lease

 

Things to consider when (or before) signing a lease for off-campus housing: 

 

  1. If you are 18 years of age or older, you are a legal adult and will be held personally responsible in any obligations you contract in a written, and possibly oral, agreement.
  2. A written lease for rental of an apartment or a house is a contract.  You must read and understand every obligation you submit yourself to when you sign it.  Read the contract in its entirety.
  3. If you sign a lease together with one or more individuals, you may be making yourself both individually and separately liable with the other individual or individuals.  This means if one or more of the other parties default, you will become responsible for the other party’s total rent balance due, including your own.
  4. Be exceedingly careful when choosing a co-tenant.  If he or she defaults in their payment, you will become liable for his or her total rent due for the remainder of the lease period.  A landlord can sue you in court for failure to pay.  Although the defaulting party is responsible to you for his or her lease amount, the chances of recovery are usually little or none, especially if he or she lives outside of Erie County or in another state.
  5. Prior to occupancy, take pictures of all areas of the leased premises, while in the presence of the landlord or their agent.
  6. While in the presence of the landlord or their agent, at a pre-inspection of the premises, carefully observe the condition of the premises.  Note any defects, such as broken fixtures, hardware, windows, wall punctures, mold, leaky pipes or faucets, dirty and worn carpeting, etc.  Note these defects on a written sheet, date it, and together with your signature, have the landlord or their agent sign it.
  7. If the landlord agrees to repair any defect, this must be done, in writing, before you sign any lease or transfer any money.
  8. Precautions #5 through #7 will make the return of any deposit money to you at the end of the lease term more likely.
  9. Choose your landlord as carefully as your co-tenant.  The ones that are not fair in their dealings are known by reputation.  Ask around.  With the Edinboro area being a captive market and good apartments at a premium, still attempt to bargain with the landlord when you are presented with objectionable terms in the lease.
  10. It is better to walk away from a bad situation then to be stuck in a bad lease with the responsibility of having to pay several thousand dollars to be released from it.
  11. The lease is a contract.  You agree to pay rent and abide by certain rules.  The landlord agrees to provide you with a habitable living area.  The only way to terminate a lease legally is if the landlord does not live up to his or her obligation of habitability or denies you the right of peaceful occupation.  Habitability means that you have the usual comforts of heat, light, utilities, shelter from the elements, and peaceful occupation of the premises in a reasonable manner.
  12. Some jurisdictions have provisions for the renter to place their rent money in escrow if the premises become reasonably uninhabitable.  The Borough of Edinboro does not have such provision, since it is available only if cities are third class or larger.

 

Resources:

Edinboro University’s Student Government Association provides free legal service to students.  Attorney Angelo Arduini is available to meet with students on Tuesday evenings from 5:00-7:00 p.m. during the regular semesters in room 309 in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center.

Edinboro Borough's Code Enforcement Officer, who can be of assistance in cases of defective housing, is Mr. John Groh.  Students are encouraged to discuss off-campus rental properties with Mr. Groh before signing a lease.  Mr. Groh can be reached by e-mail at jgroh@edinboro.net or by phone at (814) 734-1812, ext. 130.

         Mr. Groh has provided the following message and information for students residing
         off campus:
         Message from Mr. Groh