Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Signing your Off-Campus Lease

Read It Through

More often than not, leases are long and filled with words that nobody uses on an everyday basis. Plus, as college students, you most likely have a guarantor who also had to sign the lease or a guarantor form. This makes it seem so easy to just skip to the end and sign your name without thoroughly reading the lease.


Leases contain rules on everything from who is responsible for apartment repairs, to what happens if you want to break your lease, to if there’s a fine for guests who stay longer than a week. You can’t use the excuse, “But I didn’t know that!” when you are fined or asked to leave if it was in the lease. Read it through, read it carefully, and understand your obligations.

Know the Terms

Do a little reading before you head to the leasing office to sign the lease and become acquainted with the terminology you will encounter. Click here for a list of common terms found on leases . You won’t get confused by the language if you know what it means!

Know the Basics

A quick search on the web reveals a plethora of sites that detail what you should expect on your lease. (I listed several below to give you a head start.) All leases will contain some form of the following:

– Lease length, rent amount and breaking your lease terms
– Pet policies, guest policies and noise policies
– Utility obligations
– Landlord access policies and who’s responsible for legal fees if they take you to court

This is a short list; the lease can contain more—and probably will. (If you have questions about something in the lease—ask. If you want clarification for something—ask and get it in writing, if possible. MAKE SURE TO GET A COPY OF YOUR LEASE. You can always refer to it if you don’t remember what’s on it or as written proof of the terms of your lease.

Know What to Watch For

– Vague terms and allusions to “rules” that are not specified
– Verbal agreements that are not transferred to paper; a verbal agreement is not binding
– Additional fees not yet discussed or mentioned
Most lease signings and entire lease periods proceed without a hitch; but if something were to go wrong, knowing that you covered your bases will prove indispensable. Take the time to read your lease and understand what’s expected of you as a tenant. It has the potential of saving you lots of time and money.

Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL