Lease Agreements for College Students

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If you are a college student, you may have begun the hunt for an apartment for the next academic year. If this is your first time signing a lease, you may have questions and wonder what is and is not part of the leasing process. We know that finding an apartment can be difficult–but it’s also important to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of by a landlord. Here is a guide to signing a lease for college students.

Submitting Your Application

Once you’ve found an apartment that suits your needs, you’ll have to submit your rental application. While this typically is just a basic background check for the landlord to ensure there are no red flags, there are certain reasons you may be denied tenancy.

Such reasons to be denied can be a criminal history or unpaid past rental records. However, there are also reasons you cannot be denied tenancy.

It is illegal for a landlord to deny a rental to you on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. If you have been discriminated against, the Fair Housing Authority can guide you through the process of filing a complaint. You can also contact a real estate attorney to guide you through the process.

When submitting your application, you’ll want to ensure you have all of the necessary documentation in place. Typically you will need:

  • Driver’s license or valid legal identification
  • Check or cash for the application fee
  • Check or cash for required deposit and up-front payments
  • The names and information of all tenants who will be on the lease


More than likely, you will be getting an apartment with a few of your friends to help split the cost of living. It’s important to know who will be living in the apartment when you complete your lease agreement. If more people live in the apartment than listing on the lease, you can find yourself in legal trouble with your landlord.

Not only will you need to list all tenants, but you will also need a cosigner in many cases, especially if you do not have a credit established.

This is important because if you fail to pay rent or cause excessive damage to the rental, your cosigner can be held legally responsible for the cost.

Terms of The Lease – Lease Agreements

Now that you’ve been approved, you need to understand the terms of your lease. Most importantly, how rent will be paid. There a few different forms of lease agreements you should be mindful of:

  • Fixed Length Lease: This is the most common type of lease agreement. The length of time can vary from six months to one year or even longer. The understanding is that for whatever length of time your lease is, you will remain in the dwelling and continue to pay rent for that time. 
  • Month-to-Month Lease: These leases function on a month-to-month basis. While you do not need to complete a new agreement necessarily, it just means the terms you agree to at the start of that month are only valid for that month. But this also means you have the option to leave at the end of the month. Just note, for the landlord to change the terms of your agreement, they must notify you properly before the start of the month. 
  • At-Will Tenancy: If your landlord does not follow traditional tenancy agreements, they may opt you into an at-will tenancy which means that at any time, either of you can break the agreement, so long as enough notice is given. But it does leave you at risk for higher rent and to be asked to vacate the property at any time.

Breaking the Lease & Other Red Flags When it Comes to Lease Agreements

Things happen, and when they do, you may have no choice but to break your lease. While this can be stressful, you need to know that there are right and wrong ways of doing so.

  • Provide ample notice to your landlord. This will give you and the landlord to come to some agreement if possible.
  • Ask if subleasing is a possibility if you do not have specifications in your lease agreement.
  • If there is damage to the rental that makes it unlivable, such as insects, rodents, mold, and non-working utilities that have never been addressed by your landlord, you may legally be able to break the lease. Contact a real estate attorney to find out your rights and what the process must be going forward.

While breaking the lease may be necessary in emergency situations, there may have been red flags not to sign it in the first place. Such red flags to be mindful of are:

  • A clause that you must occupy the space for a set amount of time before you can get your security deposit back.
  • At-will termination by the landlord at any time, without specifics on notice deadlines.
  • If the landlord is to sell the rental facility, the new owners can terminate your lease at any point.

Signing a lease agreement can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. If you are a college student undergoing the lease agreement process, you may want to consult with a real estate attorney if you feel there are elements of the agreement that do not seem right to you.

Why Our Scranton Real Estate Lawyers?

Lease agreements can be complicated. And if you do not understand the nuances, it is easy to be taken advantage of. That’s why you need to go with Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano. With extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania’s real estate laws, our attorneys will make sure you understand the process.

If you are a college student in Northeastern Pennsylvania and are in the middle of a lease agreement, now is the time to get a Scranton real estate lawyer on your side. Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for a free consultation today.

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