In the last few years individual apartment leases have become popular in college towns. The benefit is that you’re not held responsible for the whole rent if your roommates move out, but the downside is you don’t always get to choose with whom you live.
When Nicholas Warren transferred to the University of Colorado Boulder he decided to sign an individual lease.
“I didn’t know anybody so when I was looking for a place I didn’t have anyone to share a lease with,” Warren said.
An individual lease meant Warren was only responsible for his share of the rent.
“You are responsible for the lease that you have signed. You are not responsible for roommates,” said Jeff Engelstad, a professor in practice at the University of Denver Daniels College of Business.
Engelstad said that individual leases can come with a downside.
“As far as who you might get as a new roommate, that’s the downside, because you don’t have control over that, the landlord typically has control over that,” Engelstad told CBS4.
That’s exactly what Warren said happened to him. He said he ended up living with a recovering heroin addict who visited a methadone clinic every day. Warren said that when his new roommate stopped using methadone and started using heroin again, that’s when things got bad.
“He started threatening me. He sent me over 40 text messages during a one-hour and 15-minute class,” Warren told CBS4.
Warren said that his landlord was quick to evict, but gave him little say in who moved in.
“If they met the qualifications, he had to let them move in,” Warren explained.
Then another roommate moved in.
“He was a heroin addict and he was using and he brought a dealer into my house,” Warren said.
Warren said he ended up moving into a hotel for several nights when his third roommate had a mental health crisis and police were called.
“I did not feel safe,” he said.
Each roommate was moved out and the management company was well within its rights to rent out the other rooms. Engelstad’s advice to renters — read your lease carefully.
“It outlines your responsibilities. It outlines your rights, and you need to understand that document,” Engelstad explained.
Warren wishes there had been more of a background check on the roommates he had, and he wants other renters to know what they’re getting into when they sign an individual lease.