There are two types of leases – individual and joint leases.
With an individual lease, also called “rent by the bedroom” lease, each person in the apartment is responsible for their rent each month, and is not affected if the other roommates do not pay. Typically, each person has their own bedroom (and probably their own bathroom), and shares common areas with everyone else. These properties are more likely to offer some, if not all, utilities included with the rent each month.
Individual leases work well with college students because if a roommate decides not to return to campus or decides to move out mid-semester, the other roommates are not held responsible for paying that portion of the rent. However, because the lease you sign is for one of the bedrooms, you have less control over who the other roommates are. If a bedroom becomes vacant, the property can assign another tenant to that space without your permission.
Joint leasing is a more traditional lease where all roommates are on the same lease. If one roommate decides not to pay during the term of the lease, the others are responsible for the remaining portion. These leases are generally work for students who already have roommates in mind when they sign a lease.
Joint leases are less likely to have any utilities included in the rent. This typically means that all roommates split utility costs, but one student will need to set up an account with each specific utility company.
It is important to consider these factors as you begin your off-campus search. If you need assistance during your housing search, please contact Off-Campus Resources.