Read leases carefully

At the start of the 2000-2001 school year, Sean Villery-Samuel narrowly escaped having to pay a lease for an apartment he did not want or could afford to live in.

“If I hadn’t read my lease I would have been stuck with paying the rent for two apartments,” said the 21-year-old business student from Houston.

In layman’s terms leasing means agreeing to rent from someone on his or her terms. This can leave many student renters crying foul if they need to break their leases.

According to the Web site, there are only a few solid ways to break a lease.

Some of which include documenting a health problem that prevents entrance into the apartment, or getting permission from the landlord to sublease the apartment under the current lease. But even the Web site agrees that these methods may not work all the time.

“The one real problem that student renters have is that they never sit down and read their leases thoroughly,” said Steven Ives, area manager for College Park Cash and Osceola Hall in Tallahassee.

“If the renters –students or not- would just sit down and read what they were signing, they would understand what they were getting into.”

A lease outlines the rules and rights to which the renters are entitled. This includes such things as being in default of the lease, what the landlord is responsible for, and conditionsto subletting.

“Renters, especially students have trouble understanding some of the wording to their leases,” said Veneisha Ford, 20, a junior at Tallahassee Community College and leasing intern for College Park Cash Hall.

Ford said student renters do not read the sections of the lease that covers rules regarding payment and being in default of the lease. These sections also cover the penalties that can be suffered if the rent is not paid on time.

“I can’t count how many times I have to tell student renters that if they skip out on their lease they still have to pay,” Ford said.

“If you don’t understand your lease, then you should ask for help.”

Many students assume they know what their rights are, when in reality they do not and are often afraid or too proud to ask.

“The one good piece of advice I can give is to ask questions about your lease to anyone and everyone who knows,” Villery-Samuel said.

“Because with a lease what you don’t know can hurt you.”

Deon A. Walker can be reached at