4DTHHousing GuideMonday, February 20, 1989
Leasing an apartment can pose tsiclky legal tan
By ELIZABETH SHERROD
When students sign an apartment
lease, they assume a large legal debt
that can lead to a damaged credit
rating, said Dorothy Bernholz, attor
ney for Student Legal Services.
The most important thing for
students to do is read and understand
the lease, Bernholz said.
Three roommates who sign a lease
are responsible not only for their
share of the rent, but also for the
others in the case that one or both
of the roommates breaks the lease.
This is called joint and several
liability, Bernholz said.
If the lease agreement is breached,
the landlord can sue to collect the
rent if the apartment cannot be re
rented. All of the roommates can be
held responsible, or only the one(s)
who moved out. These cases can also
be turned over to collection agencies,
Students can often avoid legal
problems by chosing apartments with
leases for buyout provisions, Bern
Before students move in, they
should fill out a checklist describing
in detail the condition of the apart
ment. This will prevent them from
paying for damage that others have
done, Bernholz said.
"North Carolina law requires
renters to give written requests for
repairs," said Bernholz. If the broken
items are not fixed, the renter can
sue the owner.
Anything listed in the minimum
housing code must be repaired. Items
such as dishwashers that were in
working order when the apartment
was rented must also be repaired.
Students should also have written
agreements with their roommates,
Bernholz said. The agreement should
outline who will pay for what and
in which proportion. If one room
mate refuses to pay in accordance
with the agreement, then he or she
can be sued.
"Landlords dont care whether
roommates get along," she said. Rent
has to be paid and roommates sue
each other frequently. But Student
Legal Services cannot represent one
student suing another one.
Finally, students should pay close
attention to the terms of the lease and
the fine print, Bernholz said. Free rent
deals should also be carefully con
sidered before a lease is signed.
In addition to the legal consider
ations, Bernholz said students should
especially with one months FREE rent!
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be aware of the hassles of paying bills
on time and bounced checks.
Amanda Blackman, leasing agent
for Carolina Apartments, said she has
had a few problems recently with
lease breaching. Subleasing is
allowed; otherwise the occupants
must be taken to court, she said.
Corky Gatewood, manager of
Ramsgate Apartments, said, "People
have just got to realize that it (a lease)
is a legal agreement."
Parents are asked to cosign and
roommate agreements are recom
mended. "Roommate agreements are
an ideal thing," Gatewood said.
"They give students something to go
by when splitting utilities and such."
Gatewood said she has never
prosecuted anyone for failure to pay
rent. "Evictions are served on the
whole apartment and we get someone
else in," she said. However, evictions
do damage credit ratings.
If one roommate needs to move
out, he or she can be released from
the lease if another roommate-is
found to assume responsibility for
that portion of the lease, Gatewood
But when both tenants want to
move, the matter of obtaining the rent
is turned over to a collection agency.
Linda Glisson, a junior business
major from Raeford, lives in Ridge
wood Apartments. She said her lease
contains a lot of "legal mumbo
jumbo," but that the person in the
office explained it to her. "Basically,
I signed it and moved in."
Dee Dee Hemby, an economics
and international studies major from
Southport, lives in the Villages
Apartments with three roommates.
"We talked it over with our parents
and all of us signed the lease," she
said. "It turned out really nice."
Start searching for that
home away from campus
By NICOLLE SKALSKI
If you are planning to live in an
apartment next fall, now is the time
to start looking, local apartment
rental managers say.
"The demand is going to exceed
the supply," said Foxcroft Apart
ments manager Kathy Ratchford.
The increasing demand is due to
the growth rate in Chapel Hill and
at the University over the past two
years, she said.
Most rental managers in the area
have already started waiting lists for
leases beginning in May and August.
Carolina Apartments manager
Laurie Stanley said, "People are
looking a lot earlier this year."
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area
offers a wide variety of rates and
apartment living for students.
At the more inexpensive end of the
spectrum are Royal Park, Carolina
and Old Well apartments.
Old Well Apartments rental man
ager and leasing agent Liz Scharman
said' her apartments are not the
fanciest, but they do offer the neces
sary amenities at a better value.
This is why her apartments have
captured so much market demand
and put her present occupancy rate
in the high 90s, she said.
While Old Well's and Royal Park's
occupants consist of a mix of under
graduate and graduate students and
.professionals, Stanley of Carolina
Apartments said students make up 95
percent of her occupants.
Moving up to a higher price range
are Kingswood, Laurel Ridge and
Kingswood" Apartments manager
Elizabeth Colmore said her occu
pants are mostly students and some
working professionals, and her apart
ments are currently being redecorated
with new tile, wallpaper and
For students who plan to attend
summer school, Kingswood is cur
rently offering a special for half off
the rent for the months of June, July
Laurel Ridge manager Nicole Hehl
says she is offering a special of $19
for the first month's rent, and
Foxcroft manager Ratchford said her
special is for one month free on a
Highland Hills, Ramsgate and The
Villages are the newer and more
expensive apartments in the area.
Ramsgate rental manager Corky
Gatewood said his apartments just
opened in December 1987 and cur
rently have a 97 percent occupancy
The Villages manager' Sandy
Bjorgo said her occupancy rate is
currently at 93 percent and she is
offering a special for one month free
on a 12-month lease.
Highland Hills leasing agent
Denise Spence said the occupancy
rate for her apartments has risen from
80 percent to 85 percent since last year
because of their special for students.
This special is about $50 off the
regular rent for all floor plans for
nine- and 12-month leases.
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1- and 2-bed-rbomapts.
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