1. How do I pay rent?
Rent rates are set in the lease, as well as the due date and how the rent will be processed by the landlord. As soon as you sign the lease, you’ve legally agreed to the terms, so be sure you fully understand the document before you sign.
The way you pay your rent varies depending on the landlord’s preferences. Sometimes it’s as simple as sending a check in the mail. But some landlords support online payments or can set up automatic withdrawals so you don’t have to remember the due date. Be sure to reference your lease or ask your landlord how they prefer to receive rent before it comes due.
2. Can a landlord raise my rent during my stay?
Landlords are allowed to raise the rent once the lease has expired. If you decide to stay in the same apartment next year, you should read your new lease carefully and make sure the rates haven’t gone up. If they have, see if you can negotiate with your landlord. If you are renting a month-to-month apartment, then rent increases are more likely to occur. In this case, landlords can raise the rent every month if they wish. But it’s important to note that many states require a 30 day notice before the rent is officially raised. This will give you time to find a new place if you cannot afford the new rent price.
3. What is my security deposit for?
The security deposit is a set amount of money that the landlord takes from you as collateral for the structural integrity and cleanliness of the house. In other words, this money is set aside by the landlord to inspire tenants to take good care of their rental property, and if you don’t, it gives them the opportunity to recoup those losses.
4. How do I get my security deposit back?
If you keep the house in good condition and don’t inflict any damages on the property, then you will get your security deposit back at the end of your lease. To ensure that there are no misunderstandings between you and the landlord, be sure to take inventory of any wear-and-tear you see when you move in, preferably via photo. This way no pre-existing damages can be mistakenly blamed on you and you can get your security deposit returned fair and square. Generally, landlords are required to return the security deposit 30 days after the lease ends.
Always read your rental agreement fully before signing it.
5. What are utilities and how are they paid for?
Utilities are the basics you need any housing unit: electricity, heat, water, trash pickup. Sometimes these bills are included in your rent payment and are handled by your landlord, but other times the tenant directly receives the bill. Be sure to ask your landlord about utilities before signing the lease so you know what you’ll be expected to pay for.
6. What is the difference between a month-to-month and a fixed-term lease?
It is very important to know the difference between these two terms, as they will determine how long you’ll stay at a place and sometimes even the rent price. A fixed-term lease is an agreement that states the tenant will remain in the apartment or home for a pre-determined amount of time — usually a year. Month-to-month leases also tend to have higher rent prices because the landlord is not guaranteed income for the next month. Unless you are in a precarious or time-sensitive situation, it’s often a better financial call to go with the fixed-term lease.
7. How do I know if my furniture is right size for the apartment I’m getting?
Be sure to know the size of your furniture before going to look at apartments. It might feel a bit odd, but bringing a tape measure to an apartment tour can be extremely useful. Jot down the measurements of certain walls and openings, and compare the with the furniture you plan to bring. If you’re unable to measure the dimensions of the apartment you’re looking at, ask the landlord for some measurements. After all, new furniture can be a bit pricey, so you want to make sure that you get an apartment that will accommodate the items you already have.
8. I want make some changes to my apartment decor. How far can I go?
Making simple aesthetic changes, like swapping furniture, is not a problem (unless you rented a furnished unit). But if you want to make changes to the apartment itself — like painting or mounting some shelves on the wall — you will need to get written permission from our leasing team. Foregoing landlord permission can leave you with a financial mess at the end of the lease term if you aren’t able to reverse all of the changes. It’s much easier to be straightforward with your landlord and simply ask what kind of changes you’re allowed to make.
9. Someone has been staying at my place for a long period of time. How does this work?
If you have roommates, you’ll want to consult them before bringing visitors — especially longer-term visitors — into your home. Secondly, check your lease terms to see if your landlord has already outlined a guest policy for how long people not on the lease are allowed to stay on the premises. Visitors who stay longer than 7 days must submit a copy of their ID and their vehicle license plate number for security purposes.
10. I got a pet and my landlord doesn’t know about it. What should I do?
First off, don’t put yourself and your pet in a bad position by taking in an animal into a building that is not pet friendly. That being said, if pets are allowed in your building, let the landlord know immediately. You will likely have to put down an extra pet deposit or tack on a fee to your monthly rent to cover for potential property damages. If pets are not allowed in your building, you will likely either have to move out or get rid of the pet. All buildings have the right to forbid pets, aside from support animals.
11. I want to sublet my place. Is this allowed?
Subletting entirely depends on what is stated in your lease and your local tenant laws. Some landlords welcome sublets and others would rather not deal with the complications, but in some areas, regardless of what your lease states, your landlord cannot forbid you from subletting. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your landlord. If you find someone to sublet your room/apartment, be sure to inform your landlord of the tenant change. Keeping open communication is essential on this issue.
12. Where is my parking space?
Obtain towing policy from Zabel
13. What repairs is my landlord responsible for, and what repairs am I responsible for?
This can be tricky. What repairs landlords are responsible for can vary. But as a generalization, landlords are usually responsible for all repairs except extremely small ones, such as changing lightbulbs. To prevent yourself from the liabilities that are involved with performing maintenance yourself and having it go poorly, check with your landlord before starting any project. In apartment building common areas — such as laundry rooms and hallways — landlords are responsible for even tiny repairs like lightbulb changes. If you have asked your landlord to fix something or repair something that’s their responsibility but they are refusing, depending on the laws in your state, you may sue the landlord for personal injuries, including pain or suffering as a result of defective housing conditions.
14. When is a landlord allowed to enter my home?
As long as you are paying, landlords must generally stay out of a property as long as tenants are paying rent. The only exceptions are in the case of an emergency, a repair, or a house showing for potential tenants in the future. Most states require a landlord to give 24-hour notice before entering the unit, but that, too, can vary by city. Some areas have no set minimum for advance notice.
15. How do I deal with noisy neighbors?
You pay rent, so you have the right to enjoy peace and quiet in your home. What happens if a neighbor is disrupting that enjoyment? Generally-speaking, your leasing team is not responsible for policing noise or other civil ordinances. That is the responsibility of local law enforcement. For safety and liability reasons, our team cannot confront other tenants who may be violating local ordinances or the law. If you feel that the situation warrants escalation, please call the Gainesville Police Department. If the offending party becomes an habitual offender, please consult with the leasing office during normal business hours to discuss the possibility of relocation to another unit.
16. What happens when I don’t pay rent on time?
Always be sure to communicate with your landlord. Telling them that your rent is coming late might be a bit embarrassing, but it’s much better than sending a check that will bounce or just not paying the rent at all. Keep in mind that if you don’t pay rent on time continuously, the landlord has the right to issue an eviction notice.
17. I need to move out early and break the terms of my lease. How does this work?
Hey, we know that not everything goes as planned. Maybe you need to move back home. Maybe your job has relocated you. Regardless of the reason, breaking the terms of a lease is never an ideal situation. Often a lease will include an early-release clause, which requests one or two months’ rent from the tenant after they vacate. If there are no terms, you’ll need to negotiate with your landlord. Always be straightforward with your landlord about your situation, respectful of their needs, and apologetic. Sometimes a little kindness really does go a long way.
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There are many options for housing in the Gainesville area, and particularly around the UF Campus. We pride ourselves in offering a range of value-added apartment options for students and young professionals alike. Give us a call to discuss your future residence with us.
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