Fines, Rent and Fine Print

Photo by Samira Bandaru

Students moving off campus for the first time often find themselves inundated with new responsibilities. Rent no longer includes use of utilities. Comcast and AT&T take the place of the ubiquitous GTWifi and landlords no longer wear Georgia Tech apparel and smiling faces. It is easy to get overwhelmed.

Several national corporations have swooped in to play hero in this situation, boasting that their cookie-cutter apartment complexes can cater specifically to student needs. Their advertisements are riddled with beautiful young people enjoying lavish amenities, drinks in their hands and smiles on their faces. This creates a borderline-predatory situation: Who needs to read a lease when you already know that there is a ping-pong table?

Students — many of whom are poorly versed in the ways of renting and leases — are easy targets for companies looking to profit off of naivety. Very few take the time to actually read through a lease agreement, and fewer still are able to fully digest its contents. Students affected by delayed move-ins for off-campus student apartments found that they have little recourse due to the terms of their lease agreements.

While scummy business practices are not anything to applaud, the blame for this situation can be cast both ways. Students — through their school or otherwise — need to find ways to educate themselves on the ins-and-outs of securing their own place to live. 

With that comes increased confidence in setting up utilities, a sharper eye for shady business tactics and, most importantly, lease literacy. With a student’s signature, these companies forfeit all accountability for their actions. If students take the time to learn about their lease, they will get a better understanding of their rights and assure that they are not being taken advantage of.