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

After hours of scrolling through UCF Facebook groups, you've finally found the perfect roommates to embark with on your apartment journey. So what's next? It's now time to sit down together and decide 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, making it important to carefully weigh the pros and cons with your roommates before making a final decision. 

An Individual LeaseIndividual Lease

An individual lease, also referred to as a "by the bedroom" lease, is one of the most popular lease types offered at apartment communities near university and college campuses. If you sign an individual lease, you are financially responsible for only your part of the rent and any other expenses associated with your section. This includes your bedroom, bathroom, and the general upkeep of shared areas.  

Find Apartments with Individual Leases

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 monthly rent. In situations where you are not entirely confident in your roommates, or there is a possibility someone moves out early, an individual lease is a great idea! That way, you will not have to worry about any unforeseen circumstances where you would be responsible for paying extra for someone else's rent.

An individual lease is the most common lease type in 2, 3 and 4-bedroom Orlando apartments. Individual leases are also popular for individuals who do not necessarily know one another beforehand. 

Benefits of an Individual Lease

  • You won't be responsible for any financial issues that your roommates may have. If any of them are late on their rent payment, you are not held responsible and will be left with zero obligation to cover the costs. 
  • In the event that one of your roommates causes damages to their space, you will not have to worry. Only the roommate who's room is damaged is held accountable for any maintenance costs required.

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 unannounced, you don't have any say in who the apartment will choose to take their place. 

A Joint LeaseJoint Lease

A joint lease, also commonly known as a "by the apartment" lease, is where all financial responsibility for the apartment is placed on all of the tenants. Rather than being broken up by room, you and your roommates will be renting out the property as a whole and divvying up the cost of rent and utilities each month. Before move-in, everyone will sign a single joint lease to ensure everyone understands they will be equally responsible for keeping the apartment in good shape (yes! even each other's rooms).

Joint leases are common in more traditional communities as well as apartments that have one to two bedrooms. This is also a popular option for students who feel comfortable with their roommates and do not anticipate any unexpected change during their entire lease. 

Benefits of a Joint Lease

  • The cheapest way to rent an apartment. This is because the property manager is less susceptible to financial loss, so no premiums will be added to the total cost.
  • In the instance that someone moves out early, you will be able to find someone on your own, such as a friend or acquaintance you know you will get along with! 

Downsides to a Joint Lease

  • You and everyone you live will are equally responsible for rent, utilities, and any maintenance for damages to the apartment. This includes the added responsibility for the upkeep of each other's bedrooms, which can feel invasive or awkward. 
  • 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. You might feel more at ease with an individual lease, especially in situations where you are not completely confident that your roommates will keep a clean space, or pay their rent on time. 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 for a few reasons. You could end 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 be intimidating 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 the very least, you will always 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.

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