Columbia Skyline

Terms to Be Familiar With

The Housing Search

Moving can be a stressful time for many college students. Often, strenuous travel, coordination, and heavy lifting are involved. These are normal stressors in the moving process, but often there are issues many students are not prepared to handle when already under the normal stress of moving.

Tenant rights are often an unclear and aggravating subject for most first time renters. This is a perfect opportunity for you to educate yourself on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Make sure you are aware of what you can and cannot do when living in an off-campus location.


A lease is a written agreement between a tenant (the person renting) and a landlord/property owner. This agreement offers both the tenant and the landlord protection of the property and well being of tenants. When a lease is signed by both parties it becomes a binding legal contract. If you or your landlord does not fulfill all of the terms of the lease, then the person who defaults can be sued. This can cost you a great deal of time and money. So be sure you do your part in fulfilling the terms of the lease.

Written leases are the most secure way to rent any property. During your lease term, your landlord cannot raise your rent, rent the apartment to anyone else, or ask you to leave (unless he/she would like to evict you).


A landlord may not evict without a court order. The landlord may begin eviction proceedings if a tenant:

  • Damages Property
  • Fails to pay rent
  • Violates the terms of the lease
  • Injures the lessor or another tenant
  • Allows drug-related criminal activity on the premises
  • Fails to vacate at the end of the lease term
  • Gambles illegally on the property

The tenant will receive a notice that an eviction lawsuit has been filed and will have the opportunity to be heard in court before any eviction.

Follow These Tips When Signing Your Lease:

  • Read the lease very carefully.
  • Keep copies of all documents you have signed.
  • You have the right to omit undesirable portions of the lease if both parties are in agreement.
  • Any changes to the lease must be made in ink. Make sure both parties have initialed and dated the changes.
  • Never sign more than one lease. You will be required to pay all rent wherever you sign. This is not a suitable way to temporarily hold a property.
  • Do not sign the lease or any agreement until every passage is fully clear to you.
  • Leases are negotiable contracts.
  • If you have any questions about your lease- talk to a legal professional before you sign it. 


If for any reason you want to move out of a current location you must first have a sublease or continue to pay the rent and other monetary arrangements made when you first signed the lease.

If you do not pay for the entire leasing period then you could face a lawsuit.

A subleaser is someone who agrees to lease your current lease from you. This means that you can still be held responsible for any damages or problems that may occur during the remainder of the lease. Make sure that if you sublease you contact your property manager or landlord. They may have certain stipulations for taking on a sublease. Missouri allows the landlord to double the amount of rent if a tenant subleases without approval.


Property owners and landlords cannot refuse to sell, rent, sublease, or otherwise make housing unavailable based on a renter’s race, sex, national origin, ancestry, color, religion, disability, retaliation, age, family status, gender identity, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Property owners and landlords also cannot charge some individuals higher rent or falsely state that housing is not available for discriminatory reasons. If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, contact one of these agencies:

City of Columbia Human Rights Commission

Missouri Human Rights Commission

US Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing

Discrimination Hotline 800-669-9777

Rental Applications

When you have decided on one or two of the locations you are wanting , then contact the property owner or the person who showed you the location previously. They will more than likely ask you to fill out a rental application. This will give them the ability to do a few things.

One, it will give them all of your contact information.

Two, most rental applications ask that you give permission to the property owner for the release of a credit report. Many property owners want to know if you have had trouble with payment of other items in the past. This is often a standard procedure.

Three, it will give them information such as income and employment. Information such as this allows the property owner to confidently know that you will be able to afford paying rent consistently.

It is important to understand that most rental applications ask for a great deal of sensitive information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, phone numbers for references and employers. This is why it is important that you have made a sound decision that the property you are filling out an application for is the one you want.

Do not fill out more than two applications at any given time. While this is not confirmation that you have chosen to live in the housing, it is understood that if you are approved you will more than likely live in the property.

A word of advice on rental applications; some property owners ask that you and your potential roommates fill out a rental application prior to seeing their property. Some may even require a small fee for viewing a property. Reasons for the fee and prior application have to do with the property owner’s decision that they do not want to waste their time showing their property to those who will most likely be denied after the application process anyway. It is not necessary that you fill out all of the sensitive information before you’ve seen the property, especially if you feel uncomfortable.


In a majority of cases, full-time students are required to have co- signers. In the state of Missouri a co- signer is someone who signs the lease in addition to the student. This means that the co-signer agrees to:

  • have the landlord check his/her credit
  • guarantee that the tenant complies with the rental agreement
  • guarantee the payment of rent

 By having a co-signer on the lease, a property owner has the ability to collect payment if you default on your rental payments. Most students have their parents as co-signers. However, it can be anyone who is willing and earns in excess of 5-6 times the amount of the monthly rent of the property.


Information Provided By: University of Missouri Off-Campus Student Services