No matter if you are fresh out of high school or going to school after a break to work, there are plenty of houses for rent in Fort Collins. Each house and landlord is different, but understanding the process of renting and what to expect can help the entire process go much more smoothly.
Many college students look forward to living on their own and having the freedom to set their own schedule and establish themselves as an adult. But that also means entering the new world of renting.
Here is the complete house rental guide for college students:
Finding a House
The first step to renting is finding a house or apartment. In a college town like Fort Collins with Colorado State University nearby, there’s no shortage of houses for rent for college students —the key is to find one that matches your qualities and budget. Before you start looking for a rental property, make a list of features that are important to you.
Some people want to live in a place that is social and friendly, while other people care more about having a private bedroom or being close to public transportation. You should also consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend on rent. Setting specifications before your search will help you narrow down your options and only look at rentals that will be a good fit.
One of the best ways to find a rental house, especially if the market is moving quickly, is to walk around the neighborhood you want to live in with an eye out for “For Rent” signs. You can also look online through the university’s housing database, rental websites, or on social media under home rentals for college students. Going through a rental management company opens doors to numerous houses for college students to rent that you know will be screened and in good condition.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few places that look promising, contact the landlord or property manager for more information and to schedule a tour. Some properties even offer virtual tours.
Seeing the space in person or through an interactive virtual tour shows more than just pictures in the listing. Ask any questions to make sure this is the right place for you. From there, you can narrow your search to the best rental property and fill out an application.
The application shows that you are interested in the property and acts as a sort of screening process to ensure the landlord that you are a reliable tenant who will pay their rent on time and take good care of the house. A rental application is similar to a job application because it asks a variety of questions about your living and financial history. Before sitting down to complete an application, gather important information. Common questions on a rental agreement include:
· Name and contact information
· Rental history
· Job history
· Credit report
· Criminal background
As a college student, you may not have an extensive (if any) rental or job history, which can make it difficult for a landlord to know if you would be a good tenant. Because of this, your landlord may ask for personal references or parent contact information.
Your landlord may even ask where the rent money will be coming from, which allows you to state if they have a job, a scholarship that covers housing costs, or if your parents will be paying the rent. Be honest and upfront with your landlord in the application so they know you are reliable.
Because most college students don’t have extensive rental or financial history to show that they have the money to pay rent and that they will actually pay rent on time, be prepared to come with a cosigner. Many landlords require a cosigner (or guarantor) for college students, but even if it isn’t a requirement, it can still strengthen your application.
A cosigner is typically a parent or older adult who has strong financial standing. Legally, the cosigner has the same responsibility as the tenant, meaning that they will be responsible if the tenant doesn’t pay their rent or if they damage the property. Adding a cosigner to a lease ensures the landlord that rent will be paid and gives more credibility to the tenant.
Cosigners will also have to fill out an application so the landlord can screen their financial, rental, and job history, as well as pull a credit report. Before filling out an application, be sure to find a cosigner and have them be prepared with the correct information.
Leasing a House
After your application has been reviewed and approved, you will need to sign a lease or house rental agreement. The lease is the contract between the landlord and tenant and clearly states what each party will do.
In this case, the landlord agrees to rent a room or house to the tenant, and the tenant agrees to pay the set amount of rent every month and follow the rental rules. The lease agreement will likely be very detailed, so be sure to read the entire document thoroughly and ask any questions so you and the landlord are on the same page.
While most traditional leases are 12 months, leases for college students may be shorter to match their academic calendar. If you will only be living in the rental house the academic year and not the full calendar year, ask your landlord for a shorter lease term upfront or plan to find someone for a sublease agreement so that you don’t waste money paying for a place you aren’t living.
The industry standard for rental properties is to require the first and last months’ rent upfront, as well as any move-in fees or security deposits. This requirement can be challenging to meet as a college student with limited savings, but it shows you are serious about the rental house and will actually be able to pay your rent on time.
Many properties have strict income requirements, meaning you have to make a certain amount of money to live there and show you can pay the rent. College landlords tend to be more lenient because of their tenant’s limited job experience, but you should still ask if there are income requirements.
Nearly every landlord, especially those renting to college students, will require a security deposit. This deposit is typically paid when you sign the lease or before you move in and protects the landlord by covering the cost of damage that may occur and shows that the tenant is serious about taking good care of the property.
When you move out, the landlord can assess the property to see if anything was damaged. If repairs need to be made, the deposit can cover the cost. If not, the deposit is returned to you. A security deposit is fairly standard for college rentals, so be sure to factor that cost into your renting and moving budget.
Landlords have the right to establish house rules. This can be beneficial for both parties because it makes it clear exactly what their expectations are, especially for students who are new to leasing. House rules should be made clear in the lease document. By signing the lease, you agree to follow the rules.
Potential house rules could include the following:
· Getting renter’s insurance
· Contacting the landlord or maintenance manager when appliances break
· Keeping the house clean
· Maintaining a certain thermostat temperature, even when they leave for winter break
· Paying for certain utilities
· Not keeping pets in the house
Some landlords perform periodic rental property inspections to make sure the house is in good condition and that the rules are being followed. If your landlord does this, they must give you plenty of notice (other than emergencies) before coming by. Even though the landlord will have a key to the house, it is unethical for them to use it to enter the house without the tenants being made aware. Pay attention to the Right to Entry section of the lease.
Under the Fair Housing Act in Colorado, everyone who applies for housing should be treated equally. That means that landlords can’t discriminate or exclude certain types of individuals from renting their property. Examples of discrimination include charging a different rent price, not performing maintenance or repairs promptly, or limiting amenities or services based on a tenant’s gender, race, nationality, or other factors.
Discrimination claims are taken very seriously, so landlords must treat every tenant and potential tenant equally. That doesn’t mean that they have to rent to everyone who wants to live in their property, but they can’t dismiss an application based on the tenant’s gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or a host of other factors.
Know your rights as a renter. If you think you are being discriminated against because of your age or any other factors, contact local authorities or the university housing center. You should also be aware of the “U Plus 2” occupancy law in the city of Fort Collins that applies directly to college students.
Renting a house as a college student is exciting, but the process can be new and overwhelming. Knowing how to rent a house as a college student can make the process go much smoother and get you in the perfect house for your needs.