Here is the PDF of the Latest Off-Campus Housing Presentation done for admitted LL.M students. Additional information can be obtained by the Georgetown Law Office or Residence Life or the Main Campus Office of Neighborhood Life.
Students signing a lease for the first time – even law students – can be frustrated and confused by the complex legal language in housing contracts. Chances are that your questions are probably very common.
Where can I learn about renters’ rights?
Fortunately, the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ Housing Regulation Administration (HRA), is designed to help renters like yourself. The HRA publishes a “Tenant’s Guide to Safe and Decent Housing” which summarizes the DC housing code and laws governing rent-controlled apartments. To obtain a copy, visit the Housing Regulation Services Center, Room 700, 614 H St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.
What’s the most important thing to do before signing my lease?
Although it sounds obvious, make sure you read your lease! Most problems between landlords and tenants stem from confusion about obligations and expectations. Make sure all of your agreements are in writing, and make sure you understand any obligations you have as a tenant.
What about security deposits?
Make sure you clearly understand any terms and conditions regarding the deposit, and make sure these terms and conditions are outlined in writing on your lease. The DC Housing Code stipulates that once you leave your apartment, your landlord must return your deposit within 45 days, or else notify you of any intention to use the money to pay for damages.
Should I ask for an official inspection of the apartment?
Since you are obligated to leave the apartment in the same condition it was as when you moved in. Make sure everything is in working order, including faucets, stoves, and toilets. If something is not working, make sure you put it in writing, so you are not held accountable for any pre-existing damage. Thoroughly inspect the unit before moving in, and be sure to walk through the unit with the landlord before moving into the unit, and after moving out. The following walkthrough form, inspection checklist, and fire safety checklist may be used to examine the unit for any health and safety code violations.
Can I be cited for violating housing codes?
Yes! According to the HRA, tenants are responsible to maintain and clean the apartment, and to use all utilities properly.
Can I see a sample lease?
Yes! Here is a sample lease for DC, a sample lease for Maryland, and a sample lease for Virginia.
I am an international student. What kind of documents will be necessary before signing a lease?
Documentation and/or items that may be required before signing your lease:
-Guarantor-Some apartments may require you to have someone living in the United States who will “guarantee” payment of rent if you fail to do so.
-Completed Application and Application Fee-Rental history and references are often required on applications. Application fees vary greatly, depending on the rental agreement.
-Copy of Passport
-Copy of I-20/IAP-66 or Student Visa
-Acceptance Letter from Georgetown University Law Center
-Letter from Law Center Student Accounts or Financial Aid Office with account status
-Payment in full for the term of lease