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Things to consider before renting


Rent: You should know the amount of rent payable, when and where it is payable, and penalties, if any, for late payment. Discuss with your roommates how you are going to divide up the rent — and do so before signing your lease. Rent is normally due on the first day of each month. Some landlords permit payment until the fifth day of each month, after which you are assessed a late fee. Find out what your landlord's policy is. If you pay your rent in cash or with a money order, it is a good idea to obtain a receipt for every payment you make. Keep receipts or cancelled checks in a file with your rental agreement in case of a dispute.

Appliances: Appliances may include refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, air conditioning and microwave. Make sure you know exactly what appliances your house or apartment has. Inspect the quality and working condition before you sign your lease and when you move in.

Utilities: Utilities include water, heat, sewage, electric, gas, telephone, cable and Internet. Obligations to pay these should be clearly stated in the lease, and make sure you know exactly what utilities are included with your rent. It is your responsibility to put utilities in your name when you move in. If you have roommates, discuss who will pay for what and how the bills will be divided. Some companies allow payment with multiple checks, and others require one check per account.

Security: The security of the doors, locks and windows should be inspected before signing a lease and when you move in. It is a good idea to ask the students who currently live in the sapce if they have experienced problems with building security. You may also want to ask Public Safety if it has conducted a security survey of the property in which you are interested. If not, try to coordinate this with the existing tenants before you sign the lease. The Department of Public Safety constantly monitors the campus and area neighborhood with the use of patrols, cameras, and blue light phones. Click to view a map of their patrol boundaries.

Earnest money: (source: The Wisconsin Way: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants, pages 1-2) If a landlord requires the tenant to pay an earnest money deposit (which includes application fees) with the rental application, the landlord has three (3) business days after accepting the deposit to accept the tenant or return the earnest money deposit. A prospective tenant and landlord can agree to a longer period to consider the application. This agreement must be in writing and cannot be for more that 21 days after the landlord first accepted the earnest money.

If the landlord rejects the rental application, the landlord must return the entire earnest money deposit to the applicant by the end of the next business day after rejecting the application. If the applicants decide not to rent after the landlord accepts their application, the landlord may withhold actual costs or damages from the deposit.

Security deposit: Most places require some sort of deposit when you sign a lease. Find out where this money goes. The amount (usually one month's rent or more) and what it will be used for should be explained in the lease. Disputes can arise over the extent of damage done to the premises by the tenants. You should note any damages and give a copy to your landlord when you move in. When moving out, leave a forwarding address with your landlord and thoroughly clean the premises. You should receive your deposit back, minus money for damages, and a list of those damages within 21 days of moving out.

Parking: You may want to purchase parking through your landlord or Marquette. To park in a Marquette lot or structure at any time during the calendar year, you must use a parking permit, which can be purchased by registering the vehicle with the Parking Services office. Resident students can purchase 24-hour permits. Commuter, evening and part-time student permits are also available for sale. Contact Parking Services at (414) 288-6911 for information about parking-related inquiries. Check with your landlord about availability and prices of their spaces. Parking is also available through the city of Milwaukee. Call (414) 286-8350 for details.

Subletting: Many Marquette students study abroad and co-op. Make sure your landlord permits subleasing. If you plan to be gone for a semester, you can live alone or with someone else studying abroad and find an apartment that allows semester or month-to-month leases. Or find a sublessor. You can find sublessor listings at Off-campus Student Services.

Noise levels: Do you prefer a quiet environment or a more social atmosphere? Talk to current residents of the building you are interested in to find out if that environment suits you.

Pets: If you plan to have a pet, make sure your landlord allows that type of animal before you sign a lease. A landlord who allows pets may place restrictions on type and size and require additional deposits, some of which may be non-refundable. Do not get an animal assuming you will receive permission from your landlord to keep it. Permission is rarely given, and it isn't fair to the animal if you have to give it up for adoption.

Rules: Rules vary greatly with leases and can cover items such as noise levels and parties.

Right of entry: A landlord has the right to inspect, repair and show the premises at reasonable times. Except for emergency situations, the landlord may enter only after a 12-hour advance notice unless you allow entry on shorter notice.

Repairs: The landlord is responsible for making any repairs that are necessary to comply with local housing codes and keep the premises safe. If the landlord refuses to repair major building defects, you may report the defect to your local building or health inspector. The landlord may not retaliate by evicting you. Unless otherwise agreed, tenants are usually responsible for routine minor repairs. You are also required to comply with any maintenance and sanitation requirements imposed on tenants by local housing codes. You are financially responsible for any damages that you or your guests cause. Consult your lease for specific details about your responsibility and those of your landlord.

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