Things to Look for When Renting

Code Services:

Old HouseThe City of Manhattan has passed laws that state how a rental dwelling unit should be maintained, these are called codes. These codes are designed to protect your health and safety. If a dwelling is not maintained per code, or it is not “up to code,” it is technically illegal for the dwelling to be rented. Unfortunately, there is a lot of housing in Manhattan that is not up to code- so make certain you do not rent one of these homes! Check out the City of Manhattan website for information on what Code Services looks for when evaluating a house:

Check out your Landlord:

When you rent a dwelling, you are entering into a legal agreement with the landlord for an extended period of time. Since you are going to invest so much time into working with the landlord, you want to make certain they are going to uphold their responsibilities, be responsive to calls, and treat you respectfully. Here are some suggestions:

  • Talk to current tenants (when the landlord is not there) and ask them what their experience has been with the Landlord. Here are some good questions to ask:
    • How responsive is the landlord when there is a problem?
    • Are they respectful to their tenants?
    • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
    • What problems have you had with the house?
  • Read rate-your-landlord websites and rate-your-apartment websites to see what other students have said.
    • Some popular sites include:
  • Ask for references from the landlord- and then ask those people for names and numbers of people that have rented from the landlord.
  • Check to see if landlord has had any property code violations using The Manhattan Mercury Database found at:

HandshakeAsk a lot of questions before signing the lease:

  • When was the last time the house was inspected by code services? Ask to have it inspected before you sign a lease if it has not been inspected recently.
  • Call code services and ask the previous for any previous code violations on the dwelling. Code Services can be reached at 785-587-4506.
  • How do you contact the landlord in the event of an emergency- day or night, week or weekend?
  • If you live in an upstairs apartment, where do you go if there is a tornado?
  • What is your policy on subleasing? Is there a fee for subleasing?
  • What am I responsible to maintain here in the home?
  • Do I have to have the carpet professionally cleaned when I move out? Can I choose my own service or do I have to go with the service you choose? How much does your service cost?
  • Are you planning on selling the house within the term of the lease or making any large improvements? If so, what are you considering? What rental company are you considering selling to?
  • Rental Agreement Checklist

Signing the Lease:

  • If the landlord has enticed you to move-in by promising to make improvements to the house, make certain you list the improvements and the dates which they are to be completed by and have both parties initial it. This will make the improvement legally binding.
  • Make certain you read the entire lease before you sign it- you are legally bound to all parts of the lease, whether or not you read them.
  • Make certain everything you discussed- subleasing, fees, etc…- are added to the lease. If you just discuss it and it is not written down, there is no proof of the discussion or the terms agreed upon
  • GET A COPY OF THE LEASE! You need to have this for your records if you have questions in the future. Make certain you get one right away!

If you are unsure of the lease or any parts of it, the Director of Off-Campus Housing Support can help you understand it.

If you have any other questions, please contact the Director of Off-Campus Housing Support.

Helpful apps for tenants

Rent Rhino Screenshot
App Store

Lease Lobster
App Store
Google Play