Renting Guide

What should I know about signing a lease?

A lease is a binding contract, so make sure to read everything carefully before you sign. The landlord wrote the lease, but some terms are negotiable. Don't be afraid to negotiate the terms you want! Always put any oral promises in writing in the lease, and always keep a signed copy of your lease.

What is a joint lease?

A joint lease is a lease that you sign with other people, usually roommates. When a lease includes the phrase "joint and several liability," this means any or all tenants can be held responsible for damages, unpaid rent, or other charges incurred by any tenant. So, choose your roommates carefully. 

What are the landlord's duties?

In addition to any terms in the lease, Indiana law provides that landlords must maintain rental units in a safe, clean and habitable condition. 

What are the tenant's duties?

A tenant should return the rental unit to the landlord in the same or better condition than when the tenant moved in. Tenants also have the duty to notify the landlord of any repairs that are needed, and the tenant must give the landlord a "reasonable time" to make those repairs. 

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is sometimes required by a landlord to be held for the duration of the lease. It can be used by the landlord to pay for any unpaid rent, damages (with the exception of ordinary wear and tear) and other fees owed by a tenant. 

How can I ensure that I get my security deposit back?

The best way to ensure you get most or all of your security deposit back at the end of the lease is to conduct a move-in and move-out inspection. You should document in writing and with photos the condition of the rental unit when you arrive and before you leave. If the landlord does not provide one, rental inspection forms are available here.

Most important, you should provide your forwarding address in writing to the landlord on the move-out date. Make sure you document this step in writing as well. Once the landlord receives the forwarding address, the landlord has 45 days to return the security deposit or provide you with an itemized list of charges taken from the security deposit.

What is a sublease?

A sublease is a contract between you (the tenant) and the subtenant. Subleasing your rental unit does not release you from the original lease you signed. In other words, if the subtenant fails to pay rent or damages the rental unit, you can be held responsible for those charges. Landlord approval of the subtenant is commonly required in leases.

Should I obtain renter's insurance?

We recommend that students living off campus purchase renter's insurance. It is inexpensive and covers your personal items in the case of a fire. Your landlord's insurance only covers the buildings they own, not the items inside the buildings.

Contact Information

Leslie Charters
Director of Purdue Student Legal Services

Purdue University, Office of the Dean of Students, Helen B. Schleman Hall (formerly the Recitation Building), 2nd Floor, 656 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2086, Phone (765) 494-1747, Fax (765) 496-1550

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