Looking for a Place

Where to Start

There are several resources available to aid W&L students looking for rental property. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Colonna & Associates
(540) 463-7157 | www.colonnaassociates.com

H and K Properties, Inc.
(540) 464-3922 | www.handkproperties.com

Security Management, Inc.
(540) 464-4832 | smirent@rockbridge.net

Sterling Properties & Management, LLC
(540) 460-1111 | davidstull32@gmail.com

Determining Your Needs

As a prospective tenant, you have the right to ask the landlord questions. Before signing a lease, be sure that you are satisfied with the condition of the property, services provided by the landlord, and the security of the unit. Use the following tips to avoid common rental problems:

  • Make sure you understand and can manage all the costs of renting the property-rent, security deposit, utilities, upkeep, insurance, etc.
  • Before you rent, always inspect the apartment or house for needed repairs, bugs, rodents, and obvious electrical or plumbing problems.
  • Give a list of the needed repairs to the landlord and make sure these repairs are made before you sign a lease. See Appendix A for a sample move-in checklist. You may want to take photos to document the condition of the property when you move in.
  • Ask your landlord if he/she can change the locks or have them re-keyed. If the landlord does not, ask if you can make the changes and then provide him or her with copies of the new keys.

Before You Rent

Before signing a lease, have the following questions answered. It is a good idea, if possible, to have them addressed in the lease, as well:

  • Who will pay for electricity, gas, water, cable, internet, etc.?
  • When is rent due?
  • What repairs and cleaning will the landlord do?
  • What is the policy on keeping pets?
  • Are fees charged for late payments?
  • Who maintains the yard and handles snow removal?
  • Is parking provided?
  • How much are the deposit and the application fee (if any)?

Discrimination

Landlords cannot refuse to sell, rent, sublease or otherwise make housing available based on a renter's race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Landlords also cannot charge some individuals higher rent or falsely state that housing is not available for discriminatory reasons. However, there are some exceptions to these rules. If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, the following agencies can help:

  • Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
    Washington and Lee University
    242 Elrod University Commons
    204 W. Washington St.
    Lexington, VA 24450
    (540) 458-8754
  • If a realtor discriminates:
    Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
    9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400
    Richmond, VA 23233
    (804) 367-8500
    dpor@dpor.virginia.gov
    www.dpor.virginia.gov
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Discrimination Hotline: (800) 669-9777

Ready to Sign the Lease?

It is important to have a written lease because it provides evidence of the exact terms of agreement. Read the lease carefully.

Security Deposit

Most landlords require a deposit at the time a lease is signed. This deposit is money that the landlord collects as a security against property damage, unclean conditions, and unpaid rent. The amount may vary; it is often equal to one month's rent, but it cannot exceed two months' rent. Landlords may also charge a pet deposit, if applicable, as long as the total of the pet deposit plus the security deposit does not exceed this months' rent.

It is a good idea for you to take photos before moving out to show that the property was clean and in good repair when you moved. Within 45 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 of the security deposit was withheld. 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. It is important for the tenant to make it known where they will be staying during the 45 days after the tenancy ends so that the security deposit can be sent.