The first concern for most international students upon their arrival in Brownsville is securing affordable housing. The following information is designed to assist you in this effort.
RENTAL LEASING PROCEDURES
- Have an extra copy of the financial guarantee (bank or sponsorship statement or your assistantship offer) used to obtain your visa as evidence of your ability to afford a year’s rent. (Your visa authorization document, I-20 or DS2019, is not a financial guarantee. You do not have to show your immigration documents to your landlord for any reason.
As a guideline to your rental range, calculate between one third and one fourth of the maintenance required by the International Faculty Services Office for your first year.
Look for an apartment that suits your budget and your needs.
- Ask many questions (such as those recommended in the next section)
- Read the contract carefully.
- Make an application for the apartment of your choice. Apply for only one apartment.
- Ask if your application involves an application fee.
- Is your application binding? This means that you are making a commitment to sign a lease if your application is approved.
You will be asked for a financial guarantee to prove that you can pay for the rent. Use the financial information from your personal, family, or sponsor’s support statement on your assistantship offer. (Your visa authorization document, I-20 or DS2019, is not a financial guarantee. You do not have to show it to a landlord for any reason).
When your application is approved you will be asked to pay a security deposit and the first month’s rental fee.
- The security deposit will be held by the landlord during your rental of the apartment. When you terminate your lease, the landlord must send you an itemized bill for any unpaid charges due on the apartment and the remainder of your security deposit.
- Your careful maintenance of the apartment and your timely payment of rent protect your chances of a refund from your security deposit.
INSPECT THE APARTMENT AND MAKE A DAMAGE CHECK LIST IN YOUR FIRST WEEK IN THE APARTMENT.
- Detail any damage and/or lack of cleanliness in the apartment.
- Photographs of the apartment are a reasonable addition.
- Deliver the damage check list, dated and signed by everyone living in the apartment, to the landlord or apartment manager as soon as possible to provide evidence of the condition in which you receive the apartment and for which your security deposit should not be charged when you terminate your lease.
Apply for electric and telephone service.
Give your new address to the University Registrar’s Office, to assure that you will receive official University mailings.
Ask the landlord or apartment manager to help you with any appliances unfamiliar to you.
Request maintenance and repairs in writing to your landlord or apartment manager. Keep a copy of your request.
Pay your rent before the late penalty period each month. (Payment must be registered mail, return receipt requested provides evidence of your timely payment).
Renew or terminate your lease in writing before the renewal/ termination date.
RENTAL TERMINATION PROCEDURES
Notify your landlord/apartment manager in writing before the renewal/termination date on your lease.
Request the check out procedure in writing from the landlord/apartment manager.
Clean the apartment thoroughly. It must be at least as clean as the check out instructions form the landlord/apartment manager in order to eliminate charges to your security deposit.
Compare your original damage checklist with the condition of the apartment now.
Ask the landlord/apartment manager to inspect the apartment with you.
You should receive an itemized bill for final charges with the balance of your security deposit within a month of your departure.
- Your copies of the original damage check list and photographs, repair request, and mail receipts of your rental payments support you in any challenge of charges made to your security deposit.
- Enclose copies of all the above in a letter to the landlord/apartment manager with an explanation of your difference of opinion about charges made to your security deposit.