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Renting 101

Basic Research:

  • As you begin looking at the options, find out the basics:
    • Look for online reviews and news articles about the neighborhood and the complex or building.
    • Ask current or previous tenants about their experiences.
    • Learn about the application process and whether you’ll be charged a fee to apply.
    • Tour the property before signing the lease. Ask questions and take photos. If you aren’t able to take the tour, have a roommate or someone you trust go in your place.

The Numbers:

  • Make a monthly trial budget that includes your monthly income and recurring expenses:
    • Rent and utilities
    • Renter’s insurance
    • Tuition, books and supplies, parking, food, entertainment, etc.

Before You Sign:

  • A few questions up front can prevent problems later on:
    • When is rent due and how do I pay? How much are late fees? When do they apply?
    • Are any utilities included in the rent?
    • Under what circumstances will you enter the property without notice?
    • Where can I park? Is there a parking fee? Is guest parking available?
    • Can I sublet if needed?
    • What is the process and timeline for renewing or not renewing the lease?
    • How do you handle emergency repairs?
    • How much is the security deposit? What factors are considered in refunding deposits?

Signing the Lease and Moving In:

  • Remember that a lease is a binding contract
  • Read the entire lease before you sign. Signing a lease indicates you have agreed to all its conditions.
  • Take pictures and note any damage to the property before you move in so you will not be held accountable for it when you leave.

Renter’s Insurance:

  • Your landlord’s insurance will not cover your personal belongings.
  • Renter’s insurance helps you replace your belongings if they are stolen or unexpectedly damaged, such as in a fire.
  • It’s not that expensive, and some properties require it.


This list is not exhaustive, but it will provide a good starting place as you plan.


Questions? If you’re considering commuting to UT or already living off campus, we’re here to help! You’ll find lots of useful information at, or stop by with any questions or concerns.