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What to Know Before You Sign Your Lease

It might seem too early to start thinking about housing for next year if you’re a sophomore or a junior, but the truth is most people have already signed their lease. Fall is not only a time for foliage and pumpkins; it’s the time for apartment hunting, too! The topic of leasing can be a complicated and tricky one, so make sure to take advantage of all of your resources. UVM provides support for off-campus housing students through the Office of Student and Community Relations (OSCR). On their resources website, just log in (it’s free!) and you will find all you need to know about living in Burlington. Here are some highlights for what you should know before you sign your lease:


  • Read your lease carefully. This might seem obvious, and maybe it is, but it’s so important to make sure every section is clear to you before signing your name at the bottom. What are the exact move-in and move-out dates? When is the rent due? What utilities are included? If you need any clarification about the lease, ask you landlord, and even double-check with VT Tenants Inc. at (802) 864-0099.
  • Leases are actually negotiable contracts, so if there’s a section you think needs to be changed, make the change in ink if both you and the landlord agree. Make sure to initial the changes for confirmation.
  • Keep copies of all the paperwork regarding your rental agreement, especially the documents you have signed. Save everything in a folder so you can quickly reference it later if something comes up.
  • What’s a security deposit? According to OSCR’s Off-Campus Living Survival Guide, a safety deposit is “money that the landlord collects as security against property damage, unclean conditions, and unpaid rent. The amount may vary; it is often equal to one month’s rent.” Don’t worry, you’ll get this money back, but only if your apartment is in good condition by the time you move out. Fun fact: In Vermont, the security deposit isn’t allowed to go over the amount of one month’s rent. Even better? In Burlington, the security deposit must be held in an account so it can collect interest. So make sure you keep your apartment in good shape!
  • Usually landlords will provide a checklist when you move in to keep a record of the condition of the apartment, but be prepared to take pictures, too. Make sure to write the date on the back of them and keep these with your other documents so they’re easy to find!

There is so much to know about renting in Burlington, and sometimes it may seem overwhelming. While these are only a handful of tips, they’re very important to know! Being a savvy renter is part of growing up, and having your own apartment is such an exciting part of your college experience. To even further prepare for the transition, sign up for OSCR’s newsletter or flip through their Off-Campus Living Guide!

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