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Research the Rental and the Landlord

Before you sign a lease, you should find out firsthand information about the rental unit and the landlord to make sure your needs will be met and to ensure a successful rental experience.

  • Does the rental meet minimum housing and property maintenance code?
  • Call the City of Syracuse Division of Code Enforcement at 315-448-8695 to find out if there are any outstanding violations. They can let you know if the property has a Certificate of Suitability stating it can be rented.
  • Talk with current tenants about the location, apartment condition, and their relationship/experience with the landlord.
  • Consult with the Landlord Information Sharing Program that is hosted by the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services and available for viewing at the OCCS office at 754 Ostrom Avenue. The program provides students with a method for communicating with each other from year to year about their rental housing challenges.

Signing the Lease

Once you decide on a rental that meets your needs, you will need to sign a lease and pay any required upfront costs. Before you sign the lease, make sure you and your roommates are 100 percent certain that this is the apartment you really want. Once the lease is signed, it is a legal and binding contract. Landlords are not likely to let you break the lease because you changed your mind at the last minute.

  • Before you sign your lease, you should have your parents look over the lease; they may be required to sign the lease as a co-signor or guarantor.
  • Contact Student Legal Services to arrange for an attorney to review your lease free of charge. The office is located at 760 Ostrom Avenue; or call 315-443-4532. The lawyers will answer any questions that you have and will give you some helpful information on protecting your security deposit.
  • Become familiar with common lease terms and understand all responsibilities outlined in the lease. (Common Lease Terms)
  • Review our lease checklist available at to make sure all your questions have been answered.
  • Make a copy of the signed lease and security deposit and save it with all other rental information in a rental file.

Standard clauses in a lease include the following:

  • Names and addresses of all parties involved, including the local property manager
  • The amount of rent, when it is due, and whether there are late fees
  • The beginning and ending dates of the lease, and the amount of the security deposit
  • Who is responsible for paying utilities (e.g., heat, hot water, electric, gas, phone, Internet, and cable)
  • Whether pets are allowed
  • Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance (Sometimes fixing luxury items like dishwashers is not the responsibility of the landlord.)
  • Who is responsible for disposing of trash, cutting grass, and shoveling snow
  • Limits on number of persons allowed in the rental unit
  • What is sublease policy? Do not overcrowd a unit or occupy an illegal unit just to lower the rent.