Top 10 Things a Student
Should Know Before Renting
- Renter's Insurance: You own more than you think! Between computers, TVs, clothing, jewelry and furniture, your assets would be much too costly for you to replace in the event of a fire or theft. Renter's insurance is very affordable and is necessary to protect your belongings.
- Condition of the apartment: Check the condition of the apartment before signing a rental agreement. If you are moving from far away, have a local friend check it out for you. This will ensure that you are not charged for any damages that may exist before your tenancy.
- Code Violations: There are a set of local and state sanitary and building codes that your apartment must adhere to. If you suspect a violation, you should report the problem to your landlord in writing. If your landlord does not make the necessary repairs you may call the city of Boston's Inspectional Services Department at (617) 635-5322.
- Re-Inspection of Rental Unit: In most cases, a landlord is required to have your apartment inspected for compliance with the State Sanitary Code after you move in. To check that this is being done, ask your landlord or call the city's Inspectional Services Department.
- Legal Fees vs. Illegal Fees: Your landlord may charge you first and/or last month's rent, a security deposit, a lock fee and a portion of a re-inspection fee. A landlord cannot charge you a broker's/finder's fee unless he or she is a licensed realtor.
- Leases and Tenancies-at-will: Read your lease carefully before signing it, as it is a binding legal contract. Leases are typically valid for one year. Tenancies-at-will run month-to-month.
- Security Deposits and Last Month's Rent: Legally, your landlord can require you to pay a security deposit in the amount of one's month's rent. He or she may also require you to pay last month's rent prior to move-in. If such fees are collected, your landlord is required to give proper receipts, pay interest on an annual basis, and place the security deposit in an account separate from their personal banking account in a bank located in MA.
- Noise: Consideration for your neighbors is important. Loud parties late at night or constant noise coming from your unit could lead to complaints and eventually eviction.
- Roommates: If you have roommates and one of them moves out before the lease is up, you may still be required to pay their portion of the rent until you find a new roommate.
- Mediation: If there is an unresolved dispute between yourself and your landlord, you can consider having an impartial mediator hear the case to help you reach a resolution. This is an informal process offered for free by the City of Boston's Rental Housing Resource Center. You can contact them by calling (617) 635-RENT.