Property owners and landlords cannot refuse to sell, rent, sublease, or otherwise make housing unavailable based on a renter’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Property owners and landlords also cannot charge some individuals higher rent or falsely state that housing is not available for discriminatory reasons. If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, notify any of these agencies:
- City of Columbia Human Rights Commission: (573) 817-5024
- City of Columbia Office of Community Services: (573) 874-7488
- Missouri Human Rights Commission Jefferson City Area: (573) 751-3325
- St. Louis Area: (314) 340-7590
- Kansas City Area: (816) 889-5100
- Sikeston Area: (573) 472-5320
- Toll-Free: (877) 781-4236
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Discrimination Hotline: (800) 669-9777
Rental applications ask for a great deal of sensitive information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, phone numbers for references and employers. This is why it is important that you have made a sound decision that the property for which you are filling out an application is the one you really want.
Most rental applications ask that you give permission to the property owner for the release of a credit report. Many property owners want to know if you have had trouble with payment of other items in the past. This is a standard procedure.
A lease is a written agreement between a tenant (the person renting) and a landlord/property owner. This agreement offers both the tenant and the landlord protection of the property and well-being of tenants. When a lease is signed by both parties it becomes a binding legal contract. If you or your landlord does not fulfill all of the terms of the lease, then the person who defaults can be sued. This can cost a great deal of time and money, so be sure to do your part in fulfilling the terms of the lease.
Never sign more than one lease. You will be required to pay all rent wherever you sign. This is not a suitable way to temporarily hold a property.
Some landlord/property owners do not require a Security Deposit, which means even if you don’t pay a security deposit when you submit the lease, it is still legally binding.
Online Leases: Read Carefully!! If you sign and submit a lease online, it is still binding even if you don’t get the complexes signature. If possible sign a lease in person so that you can get a signed copy of the lease from the complex.
In a majority of cases, full-time students are required to have co-signers. In the state of Missouri a co- signer is someone who signs the lease in addition to the student. This means that the co-signer agrees to:
- Have the landlord check his/her credit
- Guarantee that the tenant complies with the rental agreement
- Guarantee the payment of rent
By having a co-signer on the lease, a property owner has the ability to collect payment if you default on your rental payments. Most students have a parent or guardian as a co-signer. However, it can be anyone who is willing and earns in excess of 5-6 times the amount of the monthly rent of the property.
Do not sign the lease until you have confirmed that your Co-Signer/Guarantor has agreed to sign your lease, if you sign the lease and they back out, you are still legally bound by the legal document.
Some landlords require a deposit at the time of signing the lease and others waive the security deposit. This deposit is money that the landlord collects as security against property damage, unclean conditions, and unpaid rent. The amount may vary, but it cannot exceed two month’s rent in the state of Missouri.
- Within 30 days from the date the lease ends, the landlord is required to either return your full security deposit or give you a written list of reasons why part or all the security deposit was withheld.
- It is important for the tenant to make it known to the landlord where they will be staying during the 30 days after the lease ends, so the security deposit can be sent to the appropriate location.
- The landlord may retain all or any portion of the deposit to cover any damages or charges for which you are liable under the lease. The landlord may also retain all or any portion of the deposit if you break the lease agreement.
If you are not required to pay a security deposit, any charges as listed in the lease, damages, and unpaid rent will be billed after you have moved-out and a walk-thru of the property has been done by the property owner.
A landlord may not evict without a court order. The landlord may begin eviction proceedings if a tenant:
- Damages property
- Fails to pay rent
- Violates the terms of the lease
- Injures the lessor or another tenant
- Allows drug-related criminal activity on the premises
- Fails to vacate at the end of the lease term
- Gambles illegally on the property
If for any reason you want to move out of a current location before the end of your lease, you must first have a sublease, re-let agreement or continue to pay the rent and other monetary arrangements made when you first signed the lease. If you do not pay for the entire leasing period then you could face a lawsuit.
A subleaser is someone who agrees to lease your current property from you. This means that you can still be held responsible for any damages or problems that may occur during the remainder of the lease.
A re-let agreement is someone who takes over your lease from you. This means that your lease is cancelled and a new lease is drawn up between the property and the person who is taking over your lease. You will only be held responsible for any damages or problems that occurred during your rental period.