Student Life Editor
It is getting to a time of the year that I like to call “lease signing season.” The reason I like to refer to the early parts of October this way is because this is when a majority of juniors and seniors sign their leases for the following year.
Signing a lease can be a fun and exciting time for students as this can be their first real taste of what it is like living off-campus or living on their own entirely. However, sometimes signing a lease can be overwhelming and sometimes forced.
The problem with lease signing for houses around Keene State is that landlords pressure students into signing leases much too early before the actual lease starts. Most leases start around the end of May or early June, meaning that students are signing leases for houses they won’t even live in for another eight months if they sign in October!
There are many problems that come with signing a lease that early in advance. First of all, most students don’t understand, or have a minor understanding, of what a lease truly is. Signing a lease means that students are signing a legally binding document and whatever is stated in that document needs to be followed, or else that is called a breach of lease, which is against the law.
This brings up a problem: if a student decides that they found a better property, they want to stay on campus or do not want to live at the property they signed the lease for, that is a breach of the lease. That means that everything in that lease, including paying rent, utilities and everything else that costs money, the student is responsible for.
If a student would want to get out of that lease, they would have to find someone to take their place on the property that they were going to live. If they do not fill the spot with someone new, they would still be responsible for paying their portion of the rent without even living there. A student could potentially have to pay for two places to live at once, and that is a lot of money!
Some students may say, “Ah, if I am not living there I won’t have to pay, they would never know.” This is false. When signing a lease application, you have to give out your social security number to your landlord. If you refuse to pay, it can turn into a legal battle.
If you breach your lease because of any financial reasons, like the one stated above, the landlord has every right to send you to collections to grab your money from you. You would not only have to pay what you owe but the interest that has accrued since your refusal to pay.
Signing a lease can seem stressful, but it shouldn’t be. It should be a fun and exciting time for any student as this is a great way for students to learn how to live on their own. Landlords need to stop pressuring students to sign leases over nine months in advance.
The problem is that landlords think that they have all the power over you, but they don’t. You, as a current or future tenant, have every right to express any concerns that you have with the lease that you are going to sign, or are currently in. Do not feel pressured; there are so many housing options are Keene that if a landlord says, “This is the last house in the area,” go to a different landlord or look at different rental options.
If you are a student currently searching for a house or apartment and feel pressured by your landlord, do not give in. Talk to other students about what you can do to negotiate with your landlord to work out the lease. If more students refuse to sign a lease early or pay as much as the landlords are offering for places, prices can go down and stress can be alleviated.
In the end, it is important to do what is financially and mentally best for you. If you feel like you are being pressured into signing a lease that you do not want to sign or are still on the fence, speak up and let your voice be heard. You should not be afraid of your landlord pressuring you.
If you are someone who currently has concerns, please reach out to The Coordinator of Student and Community Relations Robin Picard, as she can offer professional assistance, read your lease, talk to your landlord and go over many different off-campus housing options and answer any questions you may have regarding living off-campus. Robin Picard can be contacted at Robin.Picard@keene.edu.
Connor Crawford can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org