Living on your Own

envelope and keys

Moving off campus is an exciting part of your Michigan experience; however, the transition to living on your own can be overwhelming. There are many responsibilities that come with renting a home/apartment in Ann Arbor: maintaining a good relationship with your landlord, keeping up with rent payments, and getting involved in your neighborhood – just to name a few. Keep these things in mind for a successful year ... 

The Lease

Leases are legally binding contracts. Make sure you carefully review your lease before you sign it and understand your rights and responsibilities. Most leases in Ann Arbor hold tenants "jointly and severally" liable for rent and damages. This means that each tenant is jointly AND individually responsible for the full amount of rent and any damages to the property. Before you sign a lease, consider having it reviewed (free for students) by an attorney at UM Student Legal Services. To schedule an appointment call 734-763-9920.

The Inventory Checklist

When you move into your rental, your landlord must provide 2 blank copies of an inventory checklist. Use this sheet to thoroughly document the condition of the property before you move anything in. Write everything down – this list will serve as proof of what damages existed before your lease started, which is important for getting your security deposit back at the end of the year. You should also take pictures or videos of the unit to document conditions upon move it. Return one completed inventory checklist to your landlord within 7 days of move-in and keep the other copy for your own records. If you need to pick up a blank copy of an inventory checklist, stop by the Dean of Students Office at 609 Tappan (Tappan Auxiliary Building).


Think carefully about who your roommate/s will be - remember that you will be living together for a full year. Discuss things like quiet times, chores, and visitors before signing a lease. Consider you and your roommate/s summer plans. What will you do with your room or apartment during the summer months? If you choose to sublet, make certain that you understand the implications and that your roommates agree. Check your lease to determine if your landlord has restrictions or guidelines about subtenants.


Your lease should clearly state which utilities (gas, water, electricity, cable/internet, etc) you or your landlord are responsible for. Consider splitting the bills among your roommates so that each person has the opportunity to build their credit, and most importantly, pay all the bills on time.

Renter’s Insurance

Consider purchasing renter’s insurance, which ensures that you are reimbursed if your personal property is lost, stolen or damaged in your off-campus house – some policies also cover injuries to guests and/or visitors. Affordable renter’s insurance can be purchased from many local agencies or added to your current car or home insurance policy.