Signing Your Off-Campus Lease

Read it through

More often than not, leases are long and filled with words that nobody uses on an everyday basis. Plus, as college students, you most likely have a guarantor who also had to sign the lease or a guarantor form. This makes it seem so easy to just skip to the end and sign your name without thoroughly reading the lease. BAD IDEA.

Leases contain rules on everything from who is responsible for apartment repairs, to what happens if you want to break your lease, to if there’s a fine for guests who stay longer than a week. You can’t use the excuse, “But I didn’t know that!” when you are fined or asked to leave if it was in the lease. Read it through, read it carefully, and understand your obligations.

Know the terms

Do a little reading before you head to the leasing office to sign the lease and become acquainted with the terminology you will encounter. Click here for a list of common terms found on leases. You won’t get confused by the language if you know what it means!

Know the basics

A quick search on the web reveals a plethora of sites that detail what you should expect on your lease. All leases will contain some form of the following:

  • Lease length, rent amount, and breaking your lease terms
  • Pet policies, guest policies, and noise policies
  • Utility obligations
  • Landlord access policies and who’s responsible for legal fees if they take you to court

This is a short list; the lease can contain more—and probably will. (If you have questions about something in the lease—ask. If you want clarification for something—ask and get it in writing. MAKE SURE TO GET A COPY OF YOUR LEASE. You can always refer to it if you don’t remember what’s on it or as written proof of the terms of your lease.

Know what to watch out for

  • Vague terms and allusions to “rules” that are not specified
  • Verbal agreements that are not transferred to paper; a verbal agreement is not binding
  • Additional fees not yet discussed or mentioned

Most lease signings and entire lease periods proceed without a hitch; but if something were to go wrong, knowing that you covered your bases will prove indispensable. Take the time to read your lease and understand what’s expected of you as a tenant. It has the potential of saving you lots of time and money.

Off-Campus Student Expectations

Students who live off-campus are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the Millikin University Student Handbook and the Code of Conduct. Violations of University policy, whether on or off campus, will be met with student conduct action.

The Office of Residence Life follows a simple "three strikes" policy for off-campus students. If the University fields three or more complaints regarding an off-campus student and/or their address, off-campus approval will be revoked, and each individual will be responsible for payment of the off-campus living fee.

We encourage off-campus residents to be aware of their role as a neighbor in the Decatur community and to respect the privilege of living within that community. We caution students about engaging in activities or hosting events that may endanger themselves or their peers. We expect all Millikin students to conduct themselves with integrity and appropriateness.

Once a student has been approved to live off campus, they are required to attend two mandatory safety sessions where they will learn skills to be safe traveling to and from campus, securing their residence, and fire safety. These meetings are held each spring and fall. Students unable to attend a session may schedule a private meeting with a Residence Life staff member to fulfill the requirement.