Our best piece of advice in the whole housing search and lease signing process is to slow down. The housing market in Oxford is competitive, but not as competitive as students tend to think. There are more than enough places for students to live and shopping around will provide the most options and, often, the best prices. It is also wise to wait to sign a lease until you feel comfortable with all of your roommates and until you and your roommates have finalized academic plans (such as co-ops and study-abroad).
Before Signing a Lease
A lease is a legal contract that outlines the responsibilities and obligations of the landlord and the tenant and it goes into effect from the moment it is signed.
Read the lease thoroughly and make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms. Leases will vary from one unit to another.
Know What Type of Lease You Are Signing
- Joint and several liability leases are common in Oxford. This type of lease holds everyone who signs the lease responsible for the total amount being charged. If one person doesn't pay or simply moves out, the other tenants on the lease are liable for any missing rent. The full amount is still due to the landlord and the other remaining tenants must pay it.
- Individual leases are offered at some locations (often at apartment complexes). This lease pertains to only the one person who signs it. You are not liable for your roommate's share of the rent. However, if your roommates move out or don't pay, the landlord can replace them with somebody else in order to fill the spot. Be aware that you could end up living with people you didn't choose.
Common Addendums in Oxford Leases
Many Oxford property owners use a standard lease that was developed through the Student Community Relations Committee. However, nearly all agencies that use this standard lease also include their own addendum outlining additional policies and responsibilities. The addendums are often longer than the lease itself, and some items found in Oxford lease addendums include:
- No subletting or assigning of the lease is permitted (or not without written consent by the landlord).
- Requirement for tenants to obtain renter's insurance covering personal property and liability.
- Bed bug extermination costs and related damages are tenants' responsibility.
- Tenants must provide the landlord with copies of the keys.
- The thermostat must never be set below 60°F (or similar).
- No kegs allowed on premises.
- Parent's guarantee required (or full payment of the year's rent in advance).
- No tenants, guests, animals or plants are permitted on the roof area.
Ask to Take a Copy of the Lease Home With You to Read it More Carefully
Ask your parents or someone else to read it with you.
If the rental agent or landlord is hesitant to let you take home a copy, they might not be looking out for your best interests.
Feel free to question anything confusing or misleading.
Do not sign a lease with blank spaces and be sure to get a copy of your signed lease from the landlord.
It is a good idea for all the roommates in the group to sign the lease together. As you prepare to sign the lease, review these items:
- The security deposit is often due at signing. Be prepared to pay this deposit.
- Is there an application fee or a credit check cost?
- Find out your specific move-in and move-out dates.
- Find out when and how you can get keys, especially if you are signing a lease for the next school year.