Individual Liability Leases vs. Joint Leases

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So you’re going to school at The University of Texas at Austin and planning to live in an apartment, house or condo in West Campus. Like most college students, you will likely have one or more roommates and you will all be required to sign a lease before moving into your new digs. Proceed with caution. A lease is a legally binding contract and you’ll want to understand exactly what you’re signing. This is a great reason to work with a licensed leasing agent at Housing Scout agent throughout the process.

There are typically two kinds of leases: The Individual Liability Leases (common to properties in West Campus) and Joint and Several Liability Leases. There are pros and cons to both. Here’s a summary of the two types of leases for your consideration and a few important things to know before you sign on the dotted line:


Individual Liability Lease

With the Individual Liability lease, two or more roomies that live in the same apartment all pay separate rent; hence, you each sign your own individual lease.


Pros: This gives each renter (and any co-signers) peace of mind that if anyone bails on their rent none of the other tenants are financially responsible for covering the costs.

Cons: An Individual Liability Lease may cause your rent to be higher because the property owner is taking on a greater financial risk than if you and your roommates were renting jointly and responsible for the entire rent. Something else to keep in mind: If any of your roommates move out, the property owner can fill that vacancy without consulting the other tenants. Hopefully, it’s someone that you all get along with and who shares a similar lifestyle.


Joint and Several Liability Lease

With a Joint and Several Liability Lease, you and your roommates are all equally responsible for paying the entire rent and fulfilling all of the conditions of the lease such as utilities and security deposit.


Pros: While this lease is not as typical for apartments, Joint Leases are the most common type of leases for houses and condos around West Campus that are not managed by one company. This is typically the cheapest way to rent because the property owner has less chance of a financial loss. If someone moves out, you and/or the remaining renters can personally choose a replacement.

Cons: If a roommate reneges on their share of the rent/utilities or damages the property, the remaining tenants (and co-signers) are still responsible for that share of the rent and the cost of repairs. With this type of a lease, it might be worth drawing up a roommate agreement: a contract created and signed by you and your roommates and separate from a property manager’s lease agreement.





It’s not uncommon for a family member to co-sign on a college student’s lease. In fact, some student housing property managers require it especially during a student’s first few years of college. A co-signer is responsible for the student renter’s financial obligations under the lease regardless of what type of a lease it is. This includes rent and the cost of damages.


Read The Fine Print

Make sure and read the entire lease agreement before you sign. While it might be tempting to blow past the fine print, there are important dates and information about your tenant responsibilities that you need to know about, such as: security deposits, trash disposal, lawn maintenance, utilities, move-out and cleaning requirements. Working with a licensed leasing agent from Housing Scout can help you navigate through all of the “ins and outs” of leasing as a college student.


Are you looking for housing in the West Campus area? Reach out to the licensed agents at Housing Scout today. They can help you find the perfect place to live and answer your questions about leases.


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