Important Information for Renters
The Office of Admission and Student Services provides useful resources that will help guide your housing search. Please keep in mind that Longy is not an official roommate or apartment referral service. Students are expected to take the initiative in securing their own housing and roommates.
The following information is intended to give you a head-start on your move by providing you with basic information about getting settled in the Greater Boston Area.
Please be aware that while affordable housing is possible to find in the city, there are many scams artists in operation. We advise all our students to be wary of extremely low rental prices, especially when considering online listings.
Often your apartment will only be set up for one provider of each type of utility, so be sure to check with your landlord as to which utility company you should use before contacting a company. Also, companies usually offer discounts for combined phone, cable, and internet services.
Costs can be included in your monthly rent or can be charged to your apartment every quarter. Heating costs during the winter months are naturally much higher than in other seasons, and are often separate from electricity charges. Be sure to ask what the average cost for heating is per quarter/month if applicable.
You may want to invest in an insurance policy that provides coverage for your personal property from loss due to theft, fire, or flooding. These policies are relatively inexpensive, especially considering how useful they can be in the event of a major misfortune. They also generally include protection from personal liability if a visitor is injured while in your apartment. It would also be a good idea to look into a policy that provides coverage for your instrument(s). Policies can be obtained through a private insurer or through the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association (MPIUA), also known as FAIR Plan.
2 Center Plaza, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Information on tenant rights, laws, and protection within the state of Massachusetts can be accessed here.
As a student you need to consider the following when deciding to rent an apartment or room:
- Distance of the apartment from Longy
- Accessibility to public transportation
- Rent and other costs, such as security deposits and/or realtor fees
- Cost of utilities and whether heating is electric or gas (electric heat is far more expensive)
- Conditions of the lease that the landlord will require. These include time of payment, proper use of the apartment, maintenance and repair, subletting, and ending the lease
- Cost of furnishing the apartment in the way you prefer to live
Although it is possible to find apartments which are rented on a month-to-month basis, the vast majority of renters sign leases. The lease is a legal agreement between the tenant and the landlord that the tenant will stay in the apartment for a certain amount of time and pay the landlord a certain amount of money per month. It is meant to protect you as the renter as much as it is to protect the landlord, so make sure that everything that is agreed upon is in writing and that the landlord gives you a copy of the lease for your records. Also, be sure to read the lease thoroughly before signing it. If you would like to make any changes, discuss them with the landlord before you sign your name. The most common lease term is one year (12 months), not the 9-month academic year. If you rent an apartment in September and do not expect to stay in the apartment during the following summer, it is common for students to find people to sublet the apartment temporarily. Please keep in mind that when subletting your apartment to someone, you are responsible if that person does not pay the rent.
Follow these lease guidelines:
- Read everything carefully.
- Be sure the form is complete before signing.
- If you have made special lease agreements with the landlord, make sure they have been added and are signed by both you and the landlord.
- Find out how the lease can be renewed when the term is finished.
- Keep a copy of the lease signed by you and the landlord.
Your lease should include:
- Beginning and ending dates of the contract
- Amount of the rent
- Security deposit cost and what it covers
- Furniture and appliances included with the apartment or house
- Procedures for subletting
- Party responsible for yard and shoveling of snow, trash removal, etc.
- Whether utilities are included in the rent
- Whether there is a parking space included
Common Lease Requirements:
- Amount of Rent – When you sign a lease you promise to pay the entire amount, not just the monthly amount. This means that if you leave the apartment before your lease expires, the landlord may require you, by law, to pay the rest of the rent due.
- Amount of Security Deposit – The landlord is required to pay you interest on this amount. You should ask the landlord what the interest rate is equal to.
- Rent Due Date – Rent is usually due on the first day of each month. If the rent is not paid on time, there is usually an extra charge you must pay.
- Length of Lease – Most leases are for one year. You may be able to sign shorter leases at some apartments, although the rent may be higher.
- Maintenance requirements – You are expected to keep the apartment clean and free of excess garbage. If you break anything in the apartment, you are expected to pay to have it repaired. Normal wear is expected. However, grease on kitchen walls, for example, is not considered normal wear and a landlord may deduct from your security deposit to have the walls painted.
- Breaking the contract – If you leave the apartment before the end of the lease, you may still be required to pay the remaining months’ rent if you cannot find another renter.
- Subletting – With many apartments, you will not be allowed to rent the apartment to another person without the owner’s written permission. Be sure that you understand this if you think you may want to leave before your lease ends.
Rents usually do not include utilities. It is common for landlords to require you to pay the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit, which is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent. Make sure you get a receipt for every payment made to the landlord. If there is no damage to the apartment while you are living there, the security deposit will be refunded to you when you move out. As a result, the initial costs of moving into an apartment are high but become more affordable after the initial deposit.