Lease Signing

Our best piece of advice in the whole housing search and lease signing process is to slow down. The housing market in Oxford is competitive, but not as competitive as students tend to think. There are more than enough places for students to live and shopping around will provide the most options and, often, the best prices. It is also wise to wait to sign a lease until you feel comfortable with all of your roommates and until you and your roommates have finalized academic plans (such as co-ops and study-abroad).  

Take Time Before You Sign

Tip 1 - No need to rush. Tip 2 - know your situation. Tip 3 - Read the lease carefully. Tip 4 - Visit before you sign.

Tip #1: No Need to Rush!

Only 33.91% of first year students sign a lease before sophomore year according to a 2017 survey of off-campus juniors. With 17,000+ rental spots, there is no shortage of off-campus housing in Oxford! 

Tip #2: Know Your Situation

About 57.9% of Miami students will study abroad or away before they graduate. Others may take a semester-long internship away from Oxford, graduate a semester early, take a semester off, or encounter other situations that disrupt the housing decisions made years in advance. Find out if you are able to sublease before you sign a lease. 

Tip #3: Read the Lease Carefully

Request the lease for a given property before visiting the property. Many students report feeling pressured to sign on-the-spot for a visit so they don't lose the house or unit to the next group set up for a tour. While we don't advocate for signing on the spot, if you request the lease to review with a parent or friend before hand, you will feel more prepared to ask questions during the tour. Remember, leases are legally binding. 

Tip #4: Visit Before You Sign

76.4% of students walk through the house or apartment before signing a lease, according to a 2017 survey of off-campus juniors at Miami. It's a good idea to insist that you visit, in person, your actual property. Too often, we hear from students who trusted a friend's word or online photos instead of doing an actual walk-through of the house/unit, who are later disappointed when they move-in. Print a walk-through checklist before you visit the property. 

Before Signing a Lease

A lease is a legal contract that outlines the responsibilities and obligations of the landlord and the tenant and it goes into effect from the moment it is signed. Read the lease thoroughly and make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms. Leases will vary from one unit to another. 

Know what type of lease you are signing.

  • Joint and several liability leases are common in Oxford. This type of lease holds everyone who signs the lease responsible for the total amount being charged. If one person doesn't pay or simply moves out, the other tenants on the lease are liable for any missing rent. The full amount is still due to the landlord and the other remaining tenants must pay it.
  • Individual leases are offered at some locations (often at apartment complexes). This lease pertains to only the one person who signs it. You are not liable for your roommate's share of the rent. However, if your roommates move out or don't pay, the landlord can replace them with somebody else in order to fill the spot. Be aware that you could end up living with people you didn't choose.

Common addendums in Oxford leases

Many Oxford property owners use a standard lease that was developed through the Student Community Relations Committee. However, nearly all agencies that use this standard lease also include their own addendum outlining additional policies and responsibilities. The addendums are often longer than the lease itself, and some items found in Oxford lease addendums include:

  • No subletting or assigning of the lease is permitted (or not without written consent by the landlord).
  • Requirement for tenants to obtain renter's insurance covering personal property and liability.
  • Bed bug extermination costs and related damages are tenants' responsibility.
  • Tenants must provide the landlord with copies of the keys.
  • The thermostat must never be set below 60°F (or similar).
  • No kegs allowed on premises.
  • Parent's guarantee required (or full payment of the year's rent in advance).
  • No tenants, guests, animals or plants are permitted on the roof area.

Please note that these items are just a sample of some lease addendums. Be sure to read and understand your entire lease - and its addendum - prior to signing!

Ask to take a copy of the lease home with you to read it more carefully.

Ask your parents or someone else to read it with you. If the rental agent or landlord is hesitant to let you take home a copy, they might not be looking out for your best interests. Feel free to question anything confusing or misleading. Do not sign a lease with blank spaces and be sure to get a copy of your signed lease from the landlord.

The Signing

It is a good idea for all the roommates in the group to sign the lease together. As you prepare to sign the lease, review these items: 

  • The security deposit is often due at signing. Be prepared to pay this deposit.
  • Is there an application fee or a credit check cost?
  • Find out your specific move-in and move-out dates.
  • Find out when and how you can get keys, especially if you are signing a lease for the next school year.