Searching for housing in New Orleans can be a stressful and time-consuming process. Start looking early, and do your research! Ask students who currently live off-campus for their advice and recommendations. Also check out this Off Campus Living Guide.
Undergraduate students are encouraged to begin planning their housing search as soon as possible. For example, many students plan their junior year housing during the fall semester of their sophomore year. Undergraduate students often sign leases in December or January for the following August.
Many graduate students move directly into off-campus housing and have different timelines than our undergraduate students. After gaining acceptance to an academic program, graduate students are encouraged to find short-term housing in New Orleans during the summer while they look for long-term housing. Check with your academic program for advice, potential roommate opportunities, and other resources they may offer.
Most common leases are 12 months long, with rent being due the first day of each month. Here is a list of lease-related terminology commonly used by landlords.
Month-to-Month: A type of housing contract that is renewed at the end of each month. Under this lease agreement, tenants are allowed to leave after giving a 30 day notice.
Yearly: A housing contract that holds tenants liable to pay rent for an entire year. Breaking a signed, yearly lease agreement will result in a tenant having financial penalties.
Please note that it's rare for leases to start out as month-to-month. Usually, landlords will give their tenants the option to switch to month-to-month after the first year lease is up. If you are looking for a housing lease agreement that doesn't hold you accountable to a full year, subletting might be the best option for you.
The advantage of living in an old apartment building--as compared to a modern building--is the potential for lower monthly rent and a sense of "character" to the space that modern buildings may lack. Disadvantages may include but are not limited to a smaller space with fewer amenities and the potential for appliances to break down more easily.
An apartment vacancy tends to have a very short window of opening before a landlord drafts a lease to fill that space. If you are interested in a property, don't delay. Complete an application as soon as you are able to.
Property managers will typically not "hold" an apartment. Once a lease agreement is signed, the rent and/or security deposit is due immediately to finalize the transaction.
As this is a competitive housing market, it is important to demonstrate to the property manager and/or landlord that you are a responsible and respectful person. Carrying a folder of your financial information along with a renters resume is highly recommended.
Landlord: The person who owns and/or rents the property
Master tenant: Person who moves into the premises under a written or oral contract with the landlord or whoever inherits the apartment after the original master tenant leaves. S/he collects the rent from the subtenants and pays the landlord each month. The master tenant is the only person on the lease.
Subtenant: Tenant who pays the master tenant each month and who is not on a signed lease agreement
Co-Tenant: Person who may have moved into a property after the original lease as signed, but has established a relationship with the landlord, most commonly through payment of rent each month
Rent: Amount paid by the first day of every month to continue living in a property
Lease: Contractual, legal agreement written and signed by the landlord that specifies the property to be rented out for a tenant or tenants during a specific period of time
Deposit: The amount paid to a landlord during the beginning of a lease assignment as a placeholder for any fees that may arise due to damages during a tenant's rental period. All tenants are legally entitled to receive this deposit back at the end of a lease agreement, assuming that obligations have been met and that no damages have occurred.
Penalty Fee: Amount owed to landlord by the tenant if the tenant breaks any of the rules listed on the lease agreement
Renters Resume: A document that lists past living arrangements, landlord references (if the applicant has any), current employment, and scholarships or revenue intended to verify stability in terms of paying rent in a timely manner. Renters resumes quite often verify applicants as respectful and responsible people who would be qualified as tenants.
The first phone call you make to your potential landlord is most likely the most important. Oftentimes, you will need to leave a message. Below are some tips to help you.
If you have to leave a message, be sure to state your phone number towards the beginning of the message, and then give your name and phone number a second time at the end of the message.
When meeting the landlord, you want to make a good impression. Here are some suggestions:
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR VIEWING A PROPERTY:
When viewing a rental unit, be prepared to inspect for problems or damage. Completing an apartment overview checklist may save you time and money at the end of you lease. Find a sample checklist here. This checklist will serve as proof of the condition of the unit at the time of rental, in case there is a dispute about damage.
Health and Safety Checklist:
It is a good idea to take detailed pictures of the unit before moving in. If there is any dispute about the condition of the unit when you move out, the pictures will serve as good evidence. Save these pictures along with a copy of the Apartment Overview Checklist.
When you are viewing a property, bring your Renter's Resume and checkbook. If you like the place, you should be prepared to make a deposit immediately.
A Renter's Resume contains much of the information you will need to complete an apartment application:
A Renter's Resume can be completed for your own reference when filling out apartment applications or can be given to a landlord as a supplement to the application.
It is important to be well-informed before signing a lease. Below are a few questions you should ask:
Make sure the lease reflects the fact that you’ll have new furniture, parking is guaranteed, etc. Verbal contracts can be impossible to enforce; some leases expressly preclude verbal agreements.
It can be difficult and/or expensive to cancel a lease once it’s signed.
Each fall, there are students who have rented a multi-bedroom place in the spring and still have not been able to round up enough housemates to make the payments. Anyone who has signed the lease may remain legally liable for the full rent.
Get this from your landlord and keep it in a safe place. The landlord is required by law to give you a copy. You may need it for future reference if any problems occur during the term of the lease.
You should also be allowed to inspect the utilities - the appliances, the electrical system, the plumbing, heating and lights - as well as locks and windows. Write down all existing damages. Both you and the landlord should sign and date the list. You may also want to videotape or take photographs to document your descriptions. This list will prevent the landlord from trying to charge you for these damages when you move out. Landlords can refuse to cooperate (these are not "rights" legally enforceable in court), but cooperation is advised. To have a list is in the best interest of both landlord and tenant, since it protects all parties if there is a disagreement about who is responsible for any repairs.
In some cases, the landlord pays for heat, electricity, and water. Sometimes the tenant is responsible for these bills. If this issue is not addressed in the lease, the tenant and landlord should work out their own understanding. It is good to put this agreement in writing, and have it signed by both parties.
Tulane University Housing and Residence Life provides information regarding housing in the New Orleans area for your convenience only. The University makes no representation as to the condition or suitability of any of the listed resources or establishments, nor does it assume responsibility for their condition or reliability, or for any agreements you enter into with them. This website is not intended to provide legal advice, and it should not be used as such.