Should I sign an individual or joint lease at The University of South Florida?

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Looking into USF apartments can come with lots of confusion, especially if you're planning on living with roommates. I remember asking myself this very question my freshman year of college when apartment hunting. What if someone doesn't pay their fair share? Will I be stuck covering the rest? This was certainly a fear of mine. My first piece of advice is don't be scared. Knowing whether to sign individual or separate leases is dependent on your wants for apartments near USF and where you choose to sign. There are plenty of options for individual and joint leases near the University of South Florida. Of course, before you come up with a decision you need to understand the difference between individual and joint leases.

What are Individual Leases?

Individual leases are "by the bedroom", meaning that you pay for your bedroom rather than splitting the entire monthly rent of the apartment with your roommates. When you sign an individual lease, you pay a set amount for your room and bathroom. The rate you pay is your own and your roommates pay their own rates. Individual leases are common in student apartments near USF. 

Pros of Individual Leases

You are only responsible for your portion of the apartment, which may include your bedroom and your own private bathroom, as well as the common area. If one of your roommates doesn't pay, you're not stuck with the extra cost. Same goes for if they damage something. The complex can't stick you with the bill.

Cons of Individual Leases 

The downside is that if your roommate moves out, you don't have much of a say with who gets to move in. That's up to the leasing office. Because of the risk factor for the complex in the lack of liability for the unit's inhabitants, the rate you pay might be a bit higher than what you'd pay with a joint lease.  

What are Joint Leases?

Joint leases are "by the apartment", meaning that you pay the entire monthly rent, rather than just for your individual room and bathroom. Typically, you and your roommates will split the cost of rent and utilities each month and each person's amount might vary by the specific amenities they have in their room or bathroom. Of course, this depends on how you and your roommates chose to divide things. All roommates will sign the joint lease. Traditional complexes are more likely to have joint leases.

Pros of Joint Leases

Joint leases can be cheaper than individual leases. In addition, if one of your roommates moves out, you can fill the vacancy by choosing someone else to take their spot. You don't have to worry about getting stuck with someone you don't know or don't like.

Cons of Joint Leases

If your roommate damages something such as the couch in your furnished apartment, you are not in the clear. The company can hold you or any of your roommates accountable if something goes wrong. Similarly, if one of your roommates doesn't pay their fair share, you are all held accountable. 

The University of South Florida is located near both apartments that offer individual leases and joint leases. Overall, individual leases may be less risky since you are only held accountable for your room and the damage you cause. On the other hand, they may be more expensive than joint leases and you don't have much control over who occupies the other rooms if your original roommate leaves. Joint leases allow you to have more control in who you're living with, but if one of your roommates doesn't pay their rent or a fee for damage they've done, you might be stuck with the extra expense. For those who prefer secure rates, an individual lease might be for you. If you prefer to live cheaper and want more control of who you live with, a joint lease is probably for you. Consider these factors when choosing where to live and what kind of lease to sign. Enjoy your first apartment near USF!

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of or any of our advertising partners.