• When can I get my own apartment?

    Date: 09.05.07 | by Judge Tom.

    If you′re under eighteen, most landlords won′t rent to you without a parent or guardian co-signing the lease. This may be age discrimination, but it isn′t illegal. Owners and landlords require a legally responsible adult to be on the lease or rental agreement.

    Once you′ve moved in, you′re required to pay the monthly rent and whatever additional expenses are spelled out in your agreement. This may include the first and last month′s rent, utilities (gas, electric,water), the phone and cable bill, and a security or damage deposit. If your name is on the lease, you′re legally responsible for the apartment and for paying the expenses for the entire term of the lease.

    first apartment

    Photo by Hobvias Sudoneighm

    You′ll be given firm dates for paying your rent and the terms for any damage to the property. If you leave the place in the same condition as when you moved in, your security deposit will be refunded. Read your lease agreement carefully before signing it, and don′t forget to keep a copy for yourself. Go over it with your parents and read the fine print.

    If you have valuable personal property in your new place, consider buying renter′s insurance. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but if someone breaks in and takes your clothes, stereo, and sporting equipment, you′ll be left empty-handed unless you have insurance. If you′re covered, you′ll be able to replace what′s been stolen.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    • Billy
      Sun, 28 Dec 2014 at 01:21

      Can a 16 year old co-sign with his mom to rent an apartment in Texas, if he has a job and pays every month?
      Dear Billy: In many states this is a possibility, but you have to look to the laws in your state and specifically the landlord’s rules/regulations. If the landlord/owner it okay with the circumstances, then it may be fine. It could be a challenge to find a landlord who is willing to enter into such an agreement with a minor though. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)