Transcript: It’s important to research your prospective landlord and the rental unit before you sign a lease. Don’t feel pressured to sign – there are plenty of units available in the Iowa City area and there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding COVID right now. You can do your research in a number of ways: look at the actual unit you are interested in (not a model), talk to the current tenants of the building, read google reviews and the USG Renting Guide, contact the local housing inspector regarding past housing code violations, and check the Iowa Courts website for lawsuits filed by the property management company, and against it.
Transcript: In joint and several liability situations, all roommates sign one lease contract. They are financially responsible for one another so if one of your roommates doesn’t pay, for whatever reason, you are legally obligated to pay their share of the rent. All roommates should sign the lease at the same time, and you might want everyone’s parents to co-sign for added protection. In separate lease situations, each roommate signs their own lease contract. They share the rental unit, but they are only financially responsible for themselves. Regardless of the type of lease you have, it’s important to have responsible roommates who are committed to living in their unit for the entire lease term. That being said, there are plenty of studio and efficiency apartments in the Iowa City area for just one tenant so consider living alone.
Transcript: A lease is a legally binding contract. Once you sign, you are expected to uphold your end of the bargain by moving in and paying rent. A lease is not something you can just change your mind about and tear up without possible financial consequences. You and the landlord can negotiate the terms of the lease, but any agreed-upon modifications must be written on the lease document itself. You should read and understand the entire lease, including the attachments, before you sign, get receipts for any money or deposits you paid upfront, and get a signed copy of the lease for your records. Student Legal Services provides free lease reviews to the University of Iowa students.