Lease = Legal Agreement
By signing a lease you are legally agreeing to the terms and conditions of the lease. Be sure you understand what you are signing. Ask questions BEFORE you sign. You cannot easily get out of a lease. It can be expensive and time consuming to change your mind later. Avoid ending up in court or ruining your credit. Don’t walk away from a lease. It will follow you. Avoiding your legal obligations can prevent you from renting another apartment in the future.
Security Deposits – you could owe even more!
Your landlord will probably require you to pay a security deposit to cover expenses for any damage to the apartment or rent owed at the end of the lease. Repairs can be very expensive. If you trash the place, you may end up in court owing even more money.
The “Unofficial” Roommate
Although you have the right to invite guests over to your place, there is a limit on how long overnight guests can stay. This is usually stated in the lease. In addition, the city sets occupancy limits. Violating these limits can result in fines or eviction.
Your guests are your responsibility. If they are noisy, disturb the neighbors, and the police are called, you will be the one responsible for paying the fine. If your guests damage the property, your security deposit will pay for the repairs. If repairs cost more than the security deposit, you will owe the additional amount.
Why pay rent on time?
Paying on time will avoid late fees and build your credit history. Chronic late-payers will find it more difficult to rent another apartment in the future. Paying a few days late may not seem like a big deal to you, but your landlord has a mortgage and other bills to pay. Communication is crucial. If you can’t pay on time, call your landlord to explain why. A simple phone call could avoid the start of an eviction procedure.
Joint and Severally – the blame game doesn’t work here
Tenants in Wisconsin are held joint and severally liable for the complete payment of Rent, Utilities, and Damages regardless of who or how it happened. It may be your friend’s fault, but it will be your responsibility to pay for it.
Choosing a Roommate
You cannot expect to just move in with another person and completely agree on everything. Everyone has their own habits and particular way of doing things. Before you decide to move in together, discuss the ground rules. Some topics to consider:
• How will the rent be split between you?
• What about utility bills?
• How will you share responsibility for pets and cleaning?
• Will food be shared? Who does the dishes?
• Who buys the toilet paper and other shared supplies?
• Is smoking allowed?
• Do you need quiet time to study or are you a party animal?
• Do you need a schedule for bathroom time in the morning?
• Guests – open door policy or limits?
• Lawn mowing & Snow shoveling – who does this?
• Locking doors – does everyone feel safe?
• Parking? Laundry? Trash? Any other areas for discussion?