Some basic information about roommate considerations. Click the grey boxes below to expand and view the information.
Trying to decide whether to live alone, live with friends, or live with new people? You should have open discussions with anyone you're interested in living with. It is better to get any concerns out in the open before a lease is signed or an agreement is made.
A roommate relationship is more than a living arrangement. Roommates can have emotional as well as financial effects on each other's lives. There are many laws to define the tenant-landlord relationship, but none deal specifically with roommate relationships. (Though it is possible under some circumstances for one roommate to be the landlord of the other(s).)
It's important to choose a roommate wisely and to communicate, so you can work out any problems that might occur. If you arrange to share an apartment with a roommate you don't know, you might ask the landlord to let you sign separate leases so each of you are responsible only for your share of rent and any damages you cause.
Also beware, your best friend may not be the best choice for a roommate. Living together could strain your friendship if you find you disagree about cleaning, parties, paying bills, or other issues that arise in a shared apartment. Negotiating a compromise, subletting, or sticking it out can become very difficult.
There are many pros and cons to both living with a roommate and by yourself. Living by yourself will give you the chance to enjoy solitude and release the potential burdens of living with others. Living with others may help you save money by sharing expenses, such as rent, utilities, and telephone.
You and your roommate should discuss creating a roommate agreement or contract and determine your expectations before committing to living together. Here are suggestions of what to discuss with prospective roommates before you sign a lease:
Common problems are personality and lifestyle clashes. The best way to deal with these is to negotiate one on one with your roommate. Identify the problems, what causes them, and what each roommate can do to solve them. Put any agreement you reach in writing and post it prominently-such as on the refrigerator. If necessary, seek mediation.
Another solution is subletting, which is when you move out and find someone else to live in the apartment and pay your lease. But subletting can be difficult, especially if roommates won't cooperate in finding a sublessee. In addition you usually need the landlord's permission to sublet your apartment or house.
Serious roommate problems are those that threaten your health, safety or substantially deprive you of full use of your apartment. The first step to solving such problems is to ask roommates to stop the problem behavior.
Offer to negotiate and work out a solution. If they ignore you or negotiation does not work, take a more formal approach:
Parking on campus is somewhat limited and can be an expensive option for some students and faculty. Fortunately, public transportation available in Pullman is often a great option whether you are looking to get to and from class, over to Moscow for shopping or a ride to an airport.
If you're looking for ways to get around during the holidays, the Dean of Students offers a Holiday Break Bus. More information can be found by clicking here
Pullman is served by the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport located 2 miles east of Pullman and 4 miles west of Moscow, Idaho. Horizon Air offers four flights daily from Pullman-Moscow to Seattle and four flights daily from Seattle to Pullman-Moscow. Shuttle service to Spokane International Airport is available.
Major bus routes, including Greyhound, pass through Pullman. Pullman is also served by Pullman Transit which provides service for many students of the university who do not live on campus and also provides service to the residents of Pullman. Students can get on the bus by showing their student ID card, as all students pay a fee for use of the bus system which is included in their fees when attending WSU.
Please click WSU Parking and Transportation for more information about parking on campus at WSU.
Will you move off-campus, stay in the dorms, or move to a Greek House
Who will you live with?
How many roommates do you want?
Find out the budget of the group members
What features are required vs. optional for roommates?
When should you start looking for a place?
Where to look
Track information about places that interest you
What is the application process?
Gather information before you start
Read the entire lease and all attachments before signing
Provisions that should be included in every lease
Consider when the lease ends and new move in date
If property manager is collecting a deposit, a copy of the condition of the unit is required to be provided at lease signing
Move in – Use a check in sheet to document the condition of the unit as you move in. Sign and date it, get a copy
Some basic information about a few provisions of the Pullman City Code may be of interest to you. Copies of the Pullman City Code are available for your reference and more detailed examination at the Pullman City Hall, Neill Public Library, Holland Library in the reference section, and the city's Web page.
(Pullman City Code, Chap. 8.80)
Contact: Police operations commander for information - 509-334-0802. For noise complaints/violations - 509-332-2521.
Noise is regulated in the city of Pullman as a nuisance 24 hours a day. Regulated sound includes radios, stereos, televisions, car radios, electronic musical instruments, construction equipment, voices and most other noise sources. The regulation covers a twenty-four hour period that begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 7 a.m. the following day. The procedure of enforcement is as follows: A citizen must complain to initiate the process. When a citizen complains, a police officer will determine whether the noise violates the decibel limits or is otherwise a public disturbance. The police officer may give the violator a reasonable time to comply before issuing a notice of infraction or immediately issue a notice of infraction. No additional noise, of any type, can disturb persons within the twenty-four hour period (from 12:01 a.m. until midnight) of the original complaint or an additional notice of infraction may be issued and a mandatory court appearance may be required. If the violator was warned about a loud stereo at 10 a.m. and then was contacted about loud voices at 11 p.m., the violator would be issued a notice of infraction. If the identity of the person responsible for the noise cannot be established at the time of the noise, the owner; or any tenant (if it is a rented or leased premises); or an officer of the responsible living group or association, (if it is a living group premises,) will be issued a notice of infraction whether or not that person was at the premises at the time of the noise incident.
A first violation during a year period, beginning August 1 and ending July 31 may be forfeited for a cost of $100. A second or subsequent violation will require a mandatory court appearance. If the violator is found guilty of a second or subsequent violation, the court shall fine the violator no less than $500. If the violator fails to appear in response to the notice of infraction, the violator is found guilty, fined the maximum penalty, and, if not paid, the matter is turned over to a collection agency. This may result in credit problems for the violator. [See also nuisance party regulations.]
(Pullman City Code, Chapters 12.10, 12.15, 12.20, 12.25, 12.30, and 17.105)
Contact: for questions code enforcement officer— 509-334-0802. For complaints – 509-332-2521.
Parking space is limited in most cities, including the city of Pullman. This is especially true near the Washington State University campus. Parking regulations have been enacted by the City Council with the intent of being fair to those who need to park on the City’s streets and still protect the safety and general welfare of the residents. Unless otherwise posted, vehicles, trailers, and recreational vehicles may not be left parked on public streets and alleys in the city of Pullman for more than seven days (168 consecutive hours) without being used for their intended purpose. For example, automobiles must be driven, trailers must be towed, and floats must be used in a parade or similar use in order to qualify as being used for their intended purpose. Unattached campers and canopies may not be stored or detached from a vehicle and left on public streets or alleys for any period of time.
Parking regulations in Pullman generally are consistent with those in effect for the rest of the state. For example, anywhere in Washington, including Pullman, vehicles cannot be parked on sidewalks, planting strips (area between the sidewalk and curb), blocking driveways, in yellow zones, or in fire zones (areas needed for emergency access to buildings, fire hydrants, or fire equipment. Such areas include, but are not limited to areas with adjacent curbs or rails painted yellow). Pullman City Code, Chapter 12.10.092, also prohibits parking vehicles on front lawns.
Some public parking lots and streets prohibit parking between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. These are usually downtown and are posted. This allows for regular street sweeping. For snow removal and street repair purposes, the city public works department may at times temporarily close some streets in order to facilitate the completion of snow removal or repairs. In such instances, temporary “No Parking Signs” may be erected on relatively short notice. A map of parking zones may be viewed on the city Website http://www.pullman-wa.gov/by following the drop-down menus to Departments/Police/Organization/Parking. City-issued parking permits for residents are for sale through Pullman Police Department for some areas near campus, where posted for residential parking permits. WSU Parking at 509-335-7275 (509-335-PARK) has information about on-campus permits.
Contact: WSU Parking at 509-335-7275 (509-335-PARK)
WSU has its own parking rules and regulations which can be found online. Information about on-campus parking can be obtained from Parking Services here.
(City Code, Title 9)
Contact: for questions code enforcement — 509-334-0802. For complaints – 509- 332-2521
The city of Pullman regulates how animals are controlled in the City and requires that all dogs be on a leash when off private property. Owners of animals are also responsible for disposing of animal feces deposited on public property and for having in their possession the means for doing so. In addition, animals considered dangerous are required to be muzzled when away from the owner’s premises. Generally, an animal that has bitten or attacked a person or another animal unprovoked is considered to be a dangerous animal. The Code also requires that all cats and dogs must have a current rabies inoculation; and that all dogs must be licensed.
To reclaim animals picked up by Animal Control or to adopt animals, contact Whitman County Humane Society at 509-332-3422. Unwanted and abandoned pets are a real problem in Pullman. Please have your pet neutered/spayed to help control this situation.
(Pullman City Code 11.42, 11.50)
Contact: Community Improvement Rep. – 509-338-3300.
To allow the public full and free use of sidewalks or pedestrian clearance areas, city code requires that these areas be free of debris, overhanging or surface vegetation, and in the winter months, snow and ice. To assist residents in better understanding their responsibilities in this regard, the Pullman City Code is available athttp://www.pullman-wa.gov/ under the ‘City Code’ menu item.
(Pullman City Code 5.45)
Contact: Community Improvement Rep. – 509-338-3300.
Dropping or discarding litter in parks, streets sidewalks, public property, private property, water, ponds or pools is prohibited. The property owner or person in charge of the premises is responsible for keeping the property litter free. Proper litter receptacles must be provided and maintained on all premises.
It is also against the provisions of the Pullman City Code 5.01.050(19) to leave or deposit indoor furniture outdoors in a residential zone. [See nuisance control code.]
Pullman Disposal – 509-334-1914.
Curbside recycling for single-family housing and multiple-family dwellings up to quadplex units is provided by Pullman Disposal Service. Recycling for apartment units is also offered by Pullman Disposal. Recycling centers are available in Pullman, Moscow, and at WSU.
(Pullman City Code, Chapter 5.40)
Contact: Pullman Disposal – 509-334-1914.
By city code, every person must use a licensed solid waste collector to remove and transport solid waste from the premises on a regular basis. In order to secure services, you will need to contact Pullman Disposal.
Solid waste containers that are placed at the street must be placed within 5 feet of the curb or alleyway no sooner than 24 hours prior to scheduled pick up and must be removed within 24 hours after pick up. Persons in charge of the premises must provide sufficient solid waste containers to hold solid waste of that premises and must assure that solid waste is collected regularly from that premises.
Chapter 5.40 of the Pullman City Code outlines requirements for the removal of solid waste and penalties for not doing so. The Revised Code of Washington section 9A.56.050 provides for charges of theft in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor, for individuals that commit theft of property or services by placing solid waste in the container of another individual who does have regular solid waste pickup.
Complaints about the illegal disposal of solid waste should be reported to the Community Improvement Representative at 509-338-3300.
Pullman City Code 5.01.050 (19)
Contact: Community Improvement Rep. – 509-338-3300.
Property is to be properly maintained for both sanitary and visual reasons. Indoor furnishings, such as couches, are not allowed to be left outdoors in a residential zone. [See also Nuisance Control Code.]
(Pullman City Code, Chapter 3.16)
Contact: Pullman Fire Department – 509-332-8172.
The use or discharge of fireworks by any person in Sunnyside Park on the day of the 4th of July celebration, other than display fireworks authorized under a permit issued by the Fire Chief, is prohibited.
There is a monetary penalty which shall not exceed Two Hundred Fifty dollars ($250) for each separate infraction.
If you are renting property, state law requires you to have a smoke detector and to maintain it in good working order (RCW48.48.140). The city of Pullman also encourages everyone to develop and practice a home fire escape plan and post the "911" emergency number next to your phone.If you have obtained housing but are concerned that it may not meet life and safety requirements of the building code or fire code standards, please call the City of Pullman at 509-338-3220 for a building inspection or at 509-338-3270 for a fire code inspection. Concerns about discrimination in housing should be referred to the city of Pullman's Fair Housing Commission at 509-338-3208.
(Pullman City Code, Chapter 17.75.075)
Within an R-1 Zone, no more than three unrelated persons may occupy a single dwelling unit. Within an R-2 Zone, no more than four unrelated persons may occupy a single dwelling unit. Failure of a property owner to comply with occupancy restrictions may result in a fine of $250 per day, up to $5,000 total per infraction.
(Pullman City Code 5.01)
Contact: Community Improvement Rep. – 509-338-3300.
Public nuisances caused by things such as litter, junk and trash accumulations are prohibited by code in the city of Pullman. A brief overview of the enforcement procedure follows. Nuisance enforcement is usually a complaint-driven process, with city parks and police departments responsible for enforcing nuisance control code provisions. Often the first step by city staff is to attempt to make in-person contact with the resident of the problem site, requesting voluntary cooperation to abate the nuisance. Without compliance, a Notice of Infraction, carrying a financial penalty to be levied by the Whitman County District Court, is issued to whoever is determined responsible for the existence of the nuisance. Second offenses require an appearance in court.
(Pullman City Code 5.05)
Contact: for complaints – 509-332-2521.
Nuisance parties or uncontrolled social gatherings and associated violations, are regulated in the city of Pullman by the police department.
A party or social gathering that is or becomes a nuisance party, shall cease upon the order of the Chief of Police, or the Chief’s designee; and all persons not residing therein at the site of such social gathering or party shall leave the premises immediately. Any person who fails or refuses to obey and abide by such an order shall be guilty of a violation of this Chapter - a Class 2 infraction punishable by a penalty not less than $150 for a first offense. For each repeat violation of this Chapter, the enforcement officer shall require a mandatory Court appearance. For each repeat violation of this Chapter, the Court shall impose a minimum fine of $500.
The host(s) of the nuisance party are also ticketed and fined. All nuisance party citations require a court appearance.
The complete new code provisions are available on the city Website athttp://www.pullman-wa.gov/ under City Code, Title 5, Health and Sanitation.
(2) Two or more persons who unlawfully use or threaten to use force, or participate in any way in the use of such force, against any person or against property have committed the offense of disorderly conduct or fighting. (Ord. 08-6 §2, 2008).
8.26.020 Violation – Exceptions.
(1) It shall be a defense to a violation of this chapter that the actions were justified as self-defense.
(2) It is not a violation of this chapter to physically participate in a lawful or officially sanctioned sporting, training or educational event or forum. (Ord. 08-6 §3, 2008).
8.26.030 Violation – Penalty. A violation of this chapter shall be an infraction and shall be punishable by a penalty of not less than $250.00 for the first offense, plus costs and fees. For each repeat violation of this chapter, a mandatory court appearance shall be required and the penalty shall be not less than $500.00, plus costs and fees. (Ord. 08-6 §4, 2008).
The landlord must give the tenant at least a two-day notice of his intent to enter at reasonable times. However, the law says that tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the rental where the landlord has given at least one-day’s notice of intent to enter at a specified time to show the dwelling to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants.
In case of an emergency, or if the property has been abandoned, the landlord can enter without notice. In all other cases, your landlord can enter with reasonable notice of no less than two days and only for a legitimate purpose, including to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs or alterations, or to show the apartment to prospective or actual purchasers, tenants, etc. (RCW 59.08.150).
Under the Washington State Landlord-Tenant Act, the landlord must:
A landlord is not responsible for the cost of correcting problems which were caused by the tenant.
RCW 59.18.100 provides a self help remedy for minor defects, in which the cost can be deducted from rent under limitations. You may deduct the cost of repair from the rent if the reasonable cost of repair or compliance is no more than one month’s rent per each repair, and no more than two months rent in any 12 month period. If you want to pursue self-help, you must do the following:
After giving notice, the tenant must wait the required time for the landlord to begin making repairs. Those required waiting times are:
Example: You rent an apartment for $400 a month. The pipes under the kitchen sink start leaking, and you know from experience that your landlord is very slow to fix such things. You call a plumber, who is a licensed contractor, and find out that it will cost $75 to $100 to fix the leak. You may deliver to your landlord written notice that unless the leak is fixed in ten days, you will pay to have it fixed and deduct the amount from your rent.
Another provision of the Washington State Landlord/Tenant Act, RCW 59.18.90, allows a tenant to terminate the rental agreement if the landlord fails to remedy a defective condition within a reasonable time. Since by law, all of the provisions of the Landlord/Tenant Act are considered part of the rental agreement, this includes the landlord’s failure to properly maintain the premises as described above. In order to terminate the rental agreement you must do the following:
When a landlord wants a tenant to move out, certain procedures must be followed. This section discusses why landlords can evict tenants, and what methods must be used.
There are four types of evictions under the law, each requiring a certain type of notice: For not paying rent.
For not complying with the terms of the rental agreement: If a tenant is not complying with the rental agreement (for example, keeping a cat when the agreement specifies “no pets”), the landlord can give a ten-day notice to comply or move out. If the tenant remedies the situation within that time, the landlord cannot continue the eviction process.
For creating a “waste or nuisance”: If a tenant destroys the landlord’s property; uses the premises for unlawful activity including gang or drug-related activities; damages the value of the property; interferes with other tenant’s use of the property; the landlord can issue a three-day notice to move out. The tenant must move out after receiving this type of notice. There is no option to stay and correct the problem.
For no cause: Except in the city of Seattle, landlords can evict month-to-month tenants without having or stating a particular reason, as long as the eviction is not discriminatory or retaliatory. If the landlord wants a tenant to move out and does not give a reason,the tenant must be given a 20-day notice to leave. The tenant must receive the notice at least 20 days before the next rent is due. The tenant can only be required to move out at the end of a rental period (the day before a rental payment is due.) Usually, a 20-day notice cannot be used if the tenant has signed a lease. Check the specific rental document to determine if a lease can be ended this way.
If the rental is being converted to a condominium, the tenant must be given a 90-day notice under state law.
If you have to leave your place before your lease has expired, it does not automatically mean you lose every penny of your deposit. There are some legitimate, legally acceptable reasons for leaving during the term of your lease, such as: the landlord is not complying with the rental agreement (RCW 59.08.090); the landlord is wrongfully failing to supply essential services (RCW 59.08.060).
Online here or write to:
Attorney General’s Office
2000 Bank of California Center
900 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98164
Free copies of the Landlord-Tenant Law are also available at Pullman City Hall, ASWSU, and the Pullman Chamber of Commerce. For more online information regarding Landlord-Tenant issues, see:
Write down any damage or problems on a sheet of paper that both you and the landlord sign, along with an acknowledgment that these damages or problems existed before you moved in and you are not responsible for them. If the premises aren't clean when you move in, and you have to clean them, ask the landlord to make an adjustment to your first month's rent, change the lease to indicate that you do not have to clean before you move out, or give you some other concession for having to take possession of a dirty residence.
Remember, by not cleaning the premises before you moved in, the landlord has saved money or time or both. Keep a copy of the movein inspection.
The first month will be the most expensive. Take time to estimate your budget before you move, making special considerations for the first month.
Your costs will be less if you have a roommate to share expenses with! Be sure to include the following when working on your budget for that first month:
Don't forget to create a budget for after you have moved in!
To estimate utilities for an apartment or any residence, you may want to contact the customer service department and give them the address. They will be able to give you the average cost for the unit over a twelve month period, plus the lowest and highest bills.
Some apartment complexes use private billing services to bill for electricity. Ask the manager for the average cost per unit; if possible it is a good idea to verify these costs with a current tenant. To estimate your costs or to activate your utilities and services once you've moved in contact:
Power: Avista Utilities - www.avistautilities.com 1-800-227-9187 1-877-GAS-TEAM (natural gas)
Telephone Service: Verizon - www.verizon.com 1-800-483-4000
Garbage: Pullman Disposal 509-334-7914
Keep an updated inventory of your valuables by writing down serial numbers with descriptions of each item. Photographs should be taken of everything, but especially items that cannot be marked.
Keep a list of your valuables in a safe deposit box or another secure place. You can also give a list to your insurance agent.
WSU Housing Commission hears many hard-luck stories when certain precautions are not taken. That's why we recommend good record keeping for renters. Lack of knowledge regarding leases or other rental agreements can cause a variety of problems. By keeping records of rental repair requests, security deposit disputes, and other important issues related to rental agreements, you can alleviate many of these types of problems. The most frustrating problems occur when tenants cannot document their grievances. To prevent this, start a rental file as soon as you sign the lease and add to it throughout your lease term. A rental file is easy to keep, considering the money you may recover through rental modification or qualifying for full return on your security deposit. If a rental problem arises, it is easier to negotiate a solution with the landlord when you have written records that show the extent of the problem, what you asked the landlord to do about it and how the landlord responded.
Ask the landlord to inspect the premises after you have cleaned and moved out your belongings. During the inspection, write down all of the damages that you will be held responsible for and the additional cleaning the landlord wants you to do, if any.
If you dispute any of the damage items, discuss it with the landlord at that time. Be sure to have the inventory checklist you used when you moved in with you to resolve any disputes about damage that was done before you moved in. By completing an inspection prior to moving out, you should be able to rectify some of the problems that may cause you to lose your security deposit. If you and the landlord can agree on the damaged and cleaning items, sign the list and get the landlord to do the same, indicating which items you will repair or clean before turning the premises back over to the landlord.
At the time you turn the keys over to the landlord, give him or her a letter asking for the return of your security deposit within 14 days and give an address where it can be mailed or delivered.
For any legal problems, call 509-335-9539 to schedule an appointment with the ASWSU Student Legal Services Office.
Under Washington State law, your landlord has 14 days (excluding weekends and holidays) after the tenancy terminates and you "deliver possession" of the premises, to do one of two things:
If the landlord does not comply with these requirements, you may file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court and recover the amount of the deposit wrongfully withheld plus up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld monies. (If you have caused damage to the premises or have not paid all the rent due, the landlord can still hold you responsible by filing a counter-suit against you for the cost of repairs, unpaid rent, and other damages.)
If you have not received your security deposit or an itemized explanation of the items to which it has been applied within 14 days, write the landlord a letter. Explain that you are aware of your rights under Washington State's landlord tenant laws and demand the return of your security deposit (or the portion to which you are entitled) within a specified period of time.
Let the landlord know that if your deposit is not returned within that time, you are prepared to file suit in Small Claims Court to enforce your rights. Note that "Delivery of possession" means returning the keys to the landlord and vacating the premises.
Contact: Pullman Building Inspector at 509-338-3287 for building code violations or Pullman Fire Department at 509-338-3274 for fire code violations.
This is a general safety checklist for houses or apartments. The list is not all inclusive but is based on a current edition of the Washington State Building Code. The building code requires a building to comply with the codes in effect at the time it was built. The actual rules for the building you live in may be different than this list; that is if your building was built in the 1960s the building should comply with the codes in effect at that time which may not be the same as the codes for building today. If you believe there is an unsafe condition in your house or apartment contact the building owner, their agent, the city building inspector, or the city fire inspector.
One bedroom(s), living room and dining room in an apartment should have openings to the outside to provide fresh air. This could be a door, window or a mechanical ventilation system.
Anyone, male or female, is a possible rape victim. In most rapes, the victim and rapist were nonstrangers (acquaintances or friends). Educate yourself in rape prevention tactics by being aware of potentially dangerous situations, learning how to avoid them, and what to do when you cannot. Mandatory programs are held within the Greek community as well as in the residence halls and during New Student Orientation sessions. Free programs are available through the WSU Counseling and Testing Services at 509-335-4511 or for after hours crisis call 509-332-1505. WSU has a Sexual assault Response Team that can assist with filing reports, receiving support, and addressing housing or academic concerns. Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse also provides services and support for rape of domestic violence victims. Their 24 hour hotline is 509-332-4357. Remember your personal safety depends on you!
Life in a house or apartment includes taking personal responsibility for one's safety and well being. This includes everything from understanding the appliances and heating system, and how to shut them off if they malfunction, to locking your doors and windows. You are entitled to locks that work and need to contact your landlord immediately to repair broken locks.
There are other things you can do to protect yourself, your home, and your possessions. Make sure smoke detectors are properly installed and functioning at all times. If you have sliding doors or windows you might choose to have lengths of wood made to lay in the tracks of the doors/ windows to keep them from being opened. There are other commercial devices to provide extra security or warnings if your home is being entered. Check with your landlord before doing anything that would be permanently installed in the house or apartment.
Security of the apartment building you live in is only as effective as you make it. Don't leave it all to the management and the police. By following these suggestions, you can make your building a safer place in which to live.
For more information contact the WSU Police Department at 509-335-8548 orhttp://police.wsu.edu. Or contact the Pullman Police Department at 509-334-0802.
Your safety and security on and off campus is a priority. Many campus systems are already in place to make WSU a safe place for ALL students:
Below is a list of links you may find useful in your rental experience in Pullman. Click below to view and/or print out as handy reference materials.
Residential Landlord-Tenant Act - Chapter 59.18 RCW (Washington State Legislature)
"The City of Pullman Welcomes You!" (Community Services/Elected Officials, Local Regulations & Ordinances)
When you rent a house or apartment, it is wise to and inexpensive insure your personal belongings. Most people are not covered by their landlord's insurance so it is in your best interest to invest in your own.
If your parents claim you as a dependent, first check to see if you might be covered under their policy. Usually, students are covered up to ten percent of their parents' insurance. Even if you are paying instate tuition and your parents live out-ofstate, you may still qualify on your parents' policy-so check with your family's agent first.
Recently, WSU Housing Services partnered with Haylor, Freyer, & Coon, Inc. to offer renter’s insurance. While you may be covered under your parent’s homeowner’s insurance, claims against homeowner’s insurance can be expensive, especially compared to renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance will cover your belongings if they are accidentally damaged, stolen, vandalized or suffer a loss from water, fire, smoke, etc. If a loss occurs, WSU is not responsible. We strongly encourage you to purchase renter’s insurance as unfortunate situations can and do happen. Here are some common situations that can occur:
1. Water damage from sprinklers going off
2. Fire, smoke, explosion, windstorm
4. Accidental damage
To purchase renter’s insurance, please visit www.haylor.com. You can also reach our broker that handles this plan (Haylor, Freyer, & Coon, Inc), at 866-535-0456 or firstname.lastname@example.org and they’d be happy to answer any questions that you have and help you enroll.
This option is open to any currently enrolled students, as well as University staff/faculty. See the brochure in the right sidebar for more information including rates and coverages.
Renter's Insurance Policies Typically Cover:
Who Should Have It:
What is Normally Covered:
How Do I Know What Policy is Best For Me:
How to File a Claim:
A lease is a type of rental agreement between the landlord and tenant. A lease requires the tenant to stay for a specific amount of time and restricts the landlord's ability to change the terms of the rental agreement. Leases are binding contracts and are difficult to break once signed. You should understand and be comfortable with all provisions of a lease before signing.
A lease must be in writing to be valid, this is preferable because it gives both tenant and landlord a permanent record of their agreement. A written lease fixes all terms of the agreement so that no changes can be made for a given period of time. All obligations are set out clearly. During the term of the lease, the rent cannot be raised or the rules changed unless both landlord and tenant agree and tenants may not be evicted unless they violate a term of the lease.
The disadvantage is that if a tenant has to move before the end of the period, he/she may be liable for the entire period. Be sure to read the lease carefully before you sign. Whether you have a lease or month-to-month rental agreement, when you plan to move out, you must give written notice, usually at least 30 days before the agreement end.
A month-to-month agreement is for an indefinite period of time, with rent usually payable on a monthly basis. The agreement itself can be written or oral, but if any type of fee or refundable deposit is being paid, the agreement must be in writing. A month-to-month agreement continues until either the landlord or tenant gives proper notice to end it. The rent can be raised or the rules changed at any time, provided the landlord gives the tenant proper notice.
Written monthly agreements contain the amount of rent and any rules and regulations, and make clear the rules which a tenant must follow. It is also a good way to help avoid disagreements and misunderstandings on landlord or tenant promises. The disadvantage is that the landlord can raise your 4 rent, terminate your tenancy or change any of its terms with a written notice delivered to you at least 30 days before your next periodic rental date. The tenant can terminate this type of agreement the same way.
Oral agreements have the advantage of being less formal than a written agreement. Unless the agreement is for a certain term (three months, six months, etc.) it is considered a month-to-month agreement, and you can move out with proper notice.
The disadvantage of oral agreements is the lack of clarity. If you end up in court, it is your word against theirs. If your agreement is a month-tomonth agreement, the landlord can raise your rent or evict you with proper notice (30 days on or before periodic rental date).
Roommates with separate leases have a relationship comparable to that of tenants who live in separate apartments in the same building. The landlord is directly responsible for resolving some serious problems between roommates with separate leases, either by working with the roommates or serving an eviction notice to any roommate who violates the lease. Since the other roommates have separate leases, they do not need to worry about being evicted with the roommate who violates the lease or being required to make up the departed roommate's rent payments.
You should still document serious problems by writing letters to both the roommate and landlord requesting they take steps to solve the problem.
Under most leases, roommates are jointly and severally liable for the lease. This means any one roommate can be held responsible for the actions of any or all other roommates. Any or all roommates can be sued for the damage done by one roommate. And all roommates can be evicted if one roommate fails to pay the rent. Before you sign a lease, make sure potential roommates are responsible and able to pay their share of rent and other expenses. To protect themselves, roommates should make some sort of written contract between themselves to determine what will happen if one roommate decides to leave.
In order to hold a space for you in their apartment complexes, many landlords will ask you to sign a "pre-lease agreement." We do not recommend entering into this type of agreement with a landlord. You might find yourself bound by contract to a lease before you are really ready to commit.
Some apartment complexes have model apartments for prospective tenants to look through. You should always ask to see the actual unit you will be renting. If you are not able to see it for some reason, ask the landlord to add the following addendum to the lease and sign it:
"Tenant has not had the opportunity to inspect the unit covered by this lease. Landlord warrants that the unit to be occupied by tenant will be in good, habitable condition and will conform to any model unit shown to Tenant in all material respects except as agreed. If the unit is not in good condition or does not conform to the model unit in some material respect, except as agreed to, tenant may give written notice to Landlord that unless the deficiency is corrected within a specified reasonable time, the lease will be void. If Landlord fails to correct the deficiency within the specified reasonable time, Tenant has no further obligations under the lease and the Landlord must return all monies previously paid to him by Tenant regardless of how denominated."
This will give you protection in case the unit you are given is substandard or not as represented. If the landlord refuses to add this to the lease, think twice before signing it.
Your lease should state the beginning and ending date of the lease. Be sure that it also includes the amount and type of deposit. A security deposit is money given to assure performance of the rental agreement; it can be applied to rent, pets, or damages and CANNOT have a value greater than one and one-half times the monthly rent.
Check to see that the names of the owner, manager or person authorized to receive notices is listed on the lease. The rules for behavior may be on the lease or they may be on a separate document that should be provided for you- remember, you can be evicted if you do not abide by the landlord's rules. Make sure you ask questions to be sure that you understand what you are accepting. Responsibility for the payment of utilities needs to be specified on the lease. Is it you or the landlord?
Look to see that the lease agrees with the Washington State Residential Landlord/Tenant Act. A copy may also be obtained from Pullman City Hall or viewed online. No rental agreement may contain any provisions in which the tenant agrees to waive or forgo any right or remedy under this act. You may choose to take a copy of your lease to ASWSU Student Legal Services and have it reviewed before you sign it.
Landlords usually ask for a security deposit at the time the lease is signed. You may be asked to pay the last months rent, as well. Regardless of what it is called in the lease or rental agreement, any sum you pay the landlord to hold as security for damages to the premises or unpaid rent is considered "security." The money collected may be refundable or nonrefundable. Under the Washington State Landlord/Tenant Act, the term "deposit" can only be applied to the money which can be refunded to the tenant.
If a refundable deposit is being charged, the law requires:
-The rental agreement must be in writing. It must say what each deposit is for and what the tenant must do in order to get the money back.
-The tenant must be given a written receipt for each deposit.
-A checklist or statement describing the condition of the rental unit must be filled out. Landlord and tenant must sign it, and the the tenant must be given a signed copy.
-The deposit must be placed in a trust account in a bank or escrow company. The tenant must be informed in writing where the deposits are being kept. Unless some other agreement has been made in writing, any interest earned by the deposit belongs to the landlord.
Non refundable fees will not be returned to the tenant under any circumstances.
1. Cleaning and redecorating charges are not considered part of the security deposit. However, if those charges are to be nonrefundable, the landlord must state that fact in writing. If it is not in writing, these charges cannot automatically be withheld when you move out.
Example: Your lease specifies a security deposit and a cleaning deposit. However, the lease does not say that the cleaning deposit is "nonrefundable." When you move out, you clean the place thoroughly, but the landlord does not return the cleaning deposit. In order to legally withhold the cleaning deposit in this situation, the landlord must treat it as any other security deposit and give you a written, itemized statement of the amount spent for cleaning your former residence.
2. Make sure the charges you pay at the beginning of your tenancy are clearly explained in your lease or rental agreement.
Example: Your lease specifies a security deposit of $350, which is equal to a month's rent. When you sign the lease, the apartment manager tells you that you can use the security deposit in lieu of your last month's rent. However, the written lease says nothing about this arrangement. In this case, insist that the lease be changed to reflect this agreement. If you do not, and you later get into a dispute about this provision, the written lease provision will probably determine the outcome.
Some provisions which may appear in rental agreements or leases are not legal and cannot be enforced under the law. These include:
Always make sure you understand the legalities and circumstances surrounding your lease or rental agreement. If you find any of these provisions in your lease agreement, DO NOT SIGN THE LEASE! (For more information on Landlord-Tenant Issues click here.)
Always make sure you understand the legalities and circumstances surrounding your lease or rental agreement. If you find any of these provisions in your lease agreement, DO NOT SIGN THE LEASE!