Don’t make me sign my lease a year ahead

By Lillian Barkley, Features Editor

I’m tired of moving.

I’ve lived in four different places over the last 12 months, and I would prefer to stay in my current home for senior year. However, if I don’t find four people to live with me by mid-October, my opportunity to re-sign will be forfeit.

It seems like I just moved in, but I already have to decide if I’m going to move out because of the local housing market, which generally requires that you sign a lease within months of moving in. For everyone searching for housing, this creates pressure and stress, which is totally unwelcome in the midst of midterms.

I’m lucky that I haven’t run into any issues with my roommates, besides the fact that they’re all graduating and moving away this year. Signing at least 10 months ahead of time leaves plenty of room for friendships and agreements to shatter, however. For potential roommates, it’s almost like playing a game of chance about whether everyone will get along, and that’s before even trying to live together.

This puts even more stress on younger renters who are trying to find a home, find roommates and navigate rental agreements.

Organizing a group of four or so who all agree to move into the same house can be hard when you’ve only had about a year to get to know everyone — I’m not surprised that sophomores elect to stay in the dorms.

Having a short timeframe for signing the lease means that I have to put pressure on my friends to tell me whether they can live with me.

I also barely know the house. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to try to actually buy a home; I’m still getting used to stepping around the creakiest floorboards and setting the perfect balance between burning and freezing in the shower.

Even though I know from my roommates that there’s nothing wrong with the house, renters in other homes might not realize serious issues until after they sign the lease. You’re not going to know if the pipes have a tendency to freeze and burst until a full year has passed.

There’s also the issue of rising housing costs when it comes to signing a lease. There are so many new luxury apartments on campus, but that’s not doable or desirable for all students. It’s definitely easier to coordinate a housing search with fewer people, but this often means that rent is higher.

All of my renting experience has been with houses and co-ops in Urbana, but even then I feel like I have no room to negotiate or shop around for different rental prices because I might not find a house that’s as good as my current one.

I do understand my landlord’s concern that waiting too long to show the house will result in no one wanting to rent. I may not be a good judge of the housing market, but it seems like if there’s a reliable tenant already willing to rent the house, it would be better to allow some leeway and reduce the housing panic.

Lillian is a junior in Media.

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