Signing a Lease & Your Rights

Signing a lease is a big responsibility, but tenants also have certain legal protections and rights.

Let's be serious for a moment. Renting a place to live enters you and your landlord (or manager) into a specific legal relationship. It is established by the California Civil Code and in various local Rent Control Ordinances.

Your lease or rental agreement is a written contract, which generally explains the tenant’s (your) and landlord’s (or manager’s) rights and duties to each other. Keep a copy of your original agreement intact and available for reference in case any problems come up.

Be careful, read everything, and ask questions if needed. You have the right to consult an attorney with any legal questions you may have.

Off Campus Rental Listings

Occidental College partners with places4students.com to provide off-campus housing options for our students. Listings are in real-time; accessible 24/7; descriptive with photos, amenity icons, floor plans and include Google mapping in relation to each campus; and most importantly the services are FREE for you!

Check out listings in the local area!

Tenant and Landlord Rights

Tenants and landlors both have protected legal rights. For tenants, these cover obvious things also in your rental agreement like obligation to pay rent and not carelessly damage property, but also smaller things like smoke detectors and move-out rules. Landlord's rights cover things like access to the rented property, respecting tenant's right to privacy, and how quickly repairs should be made.

These laws occasionally change, and we encourage you to stay up to date on the rules and your rights. You can get more information by visiting the California Department of Consumer Affairs website or by calling (800) 952-5210.

Renter's Insurance

We recommend purchasing renter's insurance to protect you and your property. Renter’s insurance protects the tenant’s personal property from losses caused by fire or theft. It also protects a tenant against liability (legal responsibility) for many claims or lawsuits filed by the landlord or others alleging that the tenant has negligently (carelessly) injured another person or damaged the person’s property. Renter’s insurance usually only protects the policyholder—it does not cover a roommate’s personal property. In order to be protected, all residents of the house or apartment should take out their own policy. Renter's insurance may not be available everywhere, and can vary depending on where you live and how you live.

The Office of Residential Education and Housing Services works with Sallie Mae, College Student Insurance, and National Student Services, Inc. to provide options for renter’s insurance. You can pick up a brochure from our main office, located in Berkus Hall. Other options for renters insurance can be found on the Consumer Affairs website.

Sample forms and agreements

Below are a few sample agreements for you to reference. Be sure to read any lease agreements and other contracts very carefully before signing.

Sample Rental Agreement
Know what to expect from any agreement you sign.

Sample Roommate Contract
Be clear about the expectations you have of one another.

Sample Apartment/House Inventory
Document the state of your apartment/house before you move in. Make sure you keep a copy and provide one to your landlord.