Dos and don’ts of leasing in West Campus

Jessica Regan

West Campus offers close proximity to campus, Greek life, restaurants and stores, but living there often comes at a steep price. 

For some students, the apartment hunting process is a challenge. Journalism sophomore Hannah Pruitt said she felt like she had to sign a lease quickly to secure an apartment.

“Most of the nicer apartments that are close in proximity to campus fill up within the first month of school,” Pruitt said. “The websites always make the apartments out to be bigger and nicer than they actually are. We were told that my apartment’s appliances were recently updated, but when we got there the dryer didn’t work and only two of the four burners functioned.”

When looking for an apartment, Pruitt said her leasing agent made promises they could not keep.

“My roommate and I got to preference which rooms we would like to sign a lease for,” Pruitt said. “The American Campus leasing agent made us confident that we would get either our first or second preference, so we put down a random apartment with the same floor plan in a different building (for our third choice). We ended up getting the random apartment, which ended up being significantly smaller than the other two.”

Daniel Armendariz, housing specialist for the Austin Tenant’s Council, said it’s crucial to tour buildings before signing.

“In Texas, there is no legal obligation for a landlord to show the apartment before a lease signing,” Armendariz said. “You’re then stuck signing a lease in the fear you will lose the place, and then in a yearlong contract.”

Armendariz said the council is available to students to help with reading and signing a lease.

“We will sit down with students and go through the lease to help them through the process,” Armendariz said. “Six times out of 10, a landlord will only give them the first eight pages, but fail to give them the addendums. When you’re signing it, you need to make sure you get the full copy. That’s your legal right.”

Taylor Haymour, a leasing manager for Ruckus 2.0, a new apartment currently being constructed, said they are adding staff in the next few months to ensure the leasing process goes smoothly.

“The best thing we can do is follow-up with everyone who is interested in living here,” Haymour said. “We cannot always give students the exact floor plan they want, and we wish we could accommodate everyone. It makes us sad that we aren’t able to.” 

Haymour said she suggests touring buildings early to get an idea of all available options.

“Even if you’re not ready to sign a lease yet, touring early will help you to make a decision further down the road,” Haymour said. “It will save you trouble in the long run.”

Pruitt said she urges students to conduct research before signing a lease and consider all options.

“My advice would be to figure out housing in September, and make sure to fully research all the options,” Pruitt said. “There are many privately owned apartments that are less expensive and nicer than many of the bigger named, corporately
owned apartments.”