What's the Difference Between an Individual Lease and a Joint Lease?

Photo of Cranes Landing ApartmentsCranes Landing offers joint leases to renters in the UCF and Full Sail area. Click to see more photos!

An important step in moving into an apartment with a few roommates is deciding which type of lease will be the best fit for your collective budget. Most apartments in Orlando and the UCF area can be grouped into two categories: individual lease or joint lease. Individual and joint leases are very different from one another, and each type has their own pros and cons that renters should be aware of before making a decision. 

An Individual Lease

An individual lease, also called a "by the bedroom" lease, is one of the most popular lease types offered at apartment communities near university and college campuses. By signing an individual lease, you'll be responsible for your own monthly rent as well as the general upkeep of your portion of the apartment.

Each person living in the apartment will sign their own individual lease and will be held responsible for their part of the apartment as well as their rent.

An individual lease is the most common lease type in 3 and 4 bedroom apartments.

Benefits of an Individual Lease

  • You won't be responsible for the actions of or any damaged caused by your roommates. If any of them are late on their rent payment, the apartment cannot hold it against you. 

Downsides to an Individual Lease

  • You'll be paying a bit more than you would if you signed a joint lease. The reason being that, while you'll be dealing with fewer risks, the apartment community itself is faced with more risk. To make up for that, your monthly rent is higher.
  • If one of your roommates moves out, you don't have any say in who the apartment will choose to take their place. 

A Joint Lease

Another common name for this type of lease is a  "by the apartment" lease because you'll be paying for the entire apartment as opposed to a room and the common areas of the apartment. You and your roommates will have to divvy up the cost of rent and utilities each month, and everyone is collectively responsible keeping the apartment in good shape (even each other's rooms). You and your roommates will all sign a single joint lease.

Joint leases are common in more traditional communities as well as apartments that have one to two bedrooms.  

Benefits of a Joint Lease

  • Cheapest way to rent an apartment
  • You can pick who moves in and rents out empty bedrooms

Downsides to a Joint Lease

  • You and everyone you live will are equally responsible for rent, utilities, and any damage to the apartment
  • If you owe the apartment any money, they can come after one or all of you.

An individual lease is going to look out for you and your roommates' best interests, and there's very little risk involved in signing this type of lease. The major downside to an individual lease is that you have no power over who can move into an empty bedroom. This may be a deal breaker for a lot of renters. You could wind up living with someone who has completely different cleaning and money management habits that will ultimately disrupt the harmony of the apartment. Another downside to an individual lease is the higher rent cost. While it won't be drastically more expensive to rent this way than it would be if you were to rent using a joint lease, it might be tough to manage the extra cost if you're on a budget.

Joint leases may sound scary if you worry about getting hit with repair costs or the apartment coming after you to collect back rent from a flaky roommate, but at least you get to pick who you live with. Before you sign a lease with anyone, you should make sure you know them well enough that you could vouch for them and feel confident that they won't skip out on you. If you need to rent as inexpensively as possible, a joint lease is the best fit for your budget. 

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of 407apartments.com or any of our advertising partners.