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Lease Questions

  • Can someone help me understand a lease?
    It’s important to understand the contract that you are signing. You may email your lease to or visit our office in 151 Speare Hall to review the terms in your lease. You can also educate yourself by reading our Lease Genius brochure.
  • What is a Tenant-At-Will lease?
    This is often called a month-to-month lease where both tenant and landlord agree to terms and payment for a short period of time (typically less than a year). This type of lease allows tenants and landlords to make changes with 30 days notice (examples: raising rent, moving out) Learn more about tenant-at-will leases.
  • Which fees are illegal?
    The legal fees include first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit, lock fee, and a broker fee  (if they are a licensed broker). Illegal fees include pet fees, pest removal fees, and lease re-signing fees. If you feel you are being charged other fees you feel are questionable or illegal, contact us or consult the Boston Office of Housing Stability at (617) 635-4200 or at
  • Can I break my lease?
    It is very difficult to break a lease. You may be able to discuss changing the terms of your lease with your landlord and amend the move out date, however, the landlord is not obligated to grant permission to do so unless there are extenuating circumstances. We recommend contacting our office directly at, 617-373-8480, or visit us in 151 Speare Hall. We can advise you on your rights, your lease terms,  and next steps for your specific situation and needs.
  • Who is responsible for removing pests?
    The landlord is responsible for scheduling and paying for pest removal and treatment. The tenant is responsible for maintaining the unit and keeping it free from garbage and bed-bug infested furniture. Clean apartments attract less pests. It is the tenant’s responsibility to notify the landlord to inform them of any problems, including pest infestations. Learn more here.
  • I’m moving out soon. What should I do to prepare so I get my security deposit back?
    Always communicate your plan with your landlord. Send an email or write a letter to confirm your last day, key return procedure, and to provide a forwarding address for your security deposit. Follow all cleaning guidelines on your lease. A landlord should not require you to hire a professional cleaning service but if you agree to it in your lease you will need to provide documentation that you paid for a cleaning. Save a receipt for your records. Regardless of what your lease states, you must leave any apartment “broom swept” clean and remove all personal belongings and trash. Schedule a final walk through with your landlord or property manager before you leave so you aren’t caught off guard by repairs or listed damages. Remember, you may only be charged for anything beyond normal “wear and tear.” Review our tips for moving out.
  • What happens to my security deposit?
    Your landlord must place your security deposit in a separate interest-bearing account. You should receive a receipt for your security deposit with the bank name and account number where the funds are being held. The landlord must return the security deposit (plus interest accrued) 30 days after the end of  your lease term and may only deduct funds for the following reasons: 1) Unpaid rent, 2) Damages beyond normal wear and tear, 3) Tenant’s percentage of property tax increase (if stated in the lease). If your landlord deducts money for damages, they must provide itemized receipts. More info here. If you do not receive your deposit or disagree with damages, contact your landlord in writing and send the letter via Certified Mail.


Landlord Issues

  • I’m having trouble with my landlord. Who can I speak to?
    We are here to help you navigate a conversation with your landlord. Email, call or stop by our office for advice to learn more about your rights as a renter. The City of Boston also has resources including the Boston Office of Housing Stability and Inspectional Services Department. You may call 3-1-1 for city support or download the BOS:311 app. Additional city and legal resources can be found under Boston Resources.
  • Can my landlord raise the rent?
    It depends on the terms of the lease. If you are in a fixed term lease, the landlord cannot raise the rent during the “fixed term.” If you are a tenant-at-will, a landlord may raise the rent by giving you 30 days notice. It is typical for a landlord to raise the rent each year if you decide to re-sign, but this would be considered a new lease term.
  • I received an eviction notice. What do I do?
    Contact our office for advice on how to proceed. We are available on a drop-in basis or  you may schedule a meeting by calling 617-373-8480 or send us an email. Bring all documentation with you (current lease, eviction notice, any emails or messages exchanged with your landlord or property manager). We will want to gather more information in order to provide you the best advice and refer you to the appropriate resources.



  • How can I find a sublet (room to rent) or post a sublet?
    Review our subletting page to begin. Use the Northeastern Housing Database. Use these two great features: 1) Housing Search and 2) Roommate Search. Housing Search allows you to filter listings so you only see ‘sublet’ listings posted by fellow students. The Roommate Search feature allows you to see students that need someone to fill their room, or fill another room, in their current apartment. You should also make a roommate profile of your own so students can find you when they are searching for someone that “Needs A Room” or “Has a Room.”