What is the Difference Between an Individual Lease and a Joint Lease?

Photo of Polo Club TallahasseePolo Club offers individual leases so roommate matched renters are only responsible for their portion of the rent.

If you're thinking of renting an apartment with one or more people, you need to decide which lease type will be the best fit for your budget without sacrificing peace of mind.

Most apartments in Tallahassee fall into two categories: individual lease or joint lease. Individual and joint leases are very different, and have their own share of pros and cons that you should be aware of before making a decision.

What is an Individual Lease?

An individual lease is also called a "by the bedroom" lease. If you sign an individual lease, you are responsible for your own monthly rent and the regular upkeep of your part of the apartment. That includes your room, the bathroom, and the shared common area.

Each roommate will sign their own individual lease and be held accountable for their portion of the apartment and rent.

An individual lease is the most common lease type in 3 and 4 bedroom apartments.

Pros of an Individual Lease

While less risk for renters, signing an individual leases means you can't choose your roommatesWhile less risky for renters, signing an individual lease
means you can't choose your roommates.
.
  • You're not responsible for the actions of your roommates. If any of your roommates breaks their lease or is late on their monthly rent payment, you're in the clear
  • If a roommate moves out, you aren't responsible for any damage they may have caused to the apartment 

Cons of an Individual Lease

  • You pay a little bit more than you would with a joint lease. The reason for this is simple. While there's less risk for you involved in an individual lease, there's more risk involved for the apartment community. That premium is added to your monthly rent and expenses
  • If a roommate moves out, you have no say in who moves in because the community will find someone to rent the empty room without your approval

What is A Joint Lease?

Another name for a joint lease is a "by the apartment" lease because you're paying the entire cost of the apartment, and not just for an individual room. You and your roommates must come together to pay rent and utilities each month, and everyone is responsible for the upkeep of the apartment (include each other's rooms).

You and your roommates will all sign the joint lease.

A joint lease is a common lease type in more traditional communities, as well as apartments that have one to two bedrooms.   

Pros of a Joint Lease

  • A joint lease is the least expensive way to rent an apartment
  • You can choose who rents out any empty bedrooms

Cons of a Joint Lease

  • You and your roommates are equally responsible for putting up the money to cover rent, back rent, utilities, and repairs
  • The community can come after any or all of you in order to get the money they're owed

An individual lease is going to look out for you and your roommates' best interests, and there's little risk involved for you. The main drawback to this type of lease, however, is that you have no control over who moves into your apartment. This may be a deal breaker, as you may end up living with someone with conflicting cleaning and money management habits that may disrupt the harmony of the apartment. Another downside to an individual lease is the increased rent. While renting an apartment by signing an individual lease is not drastically more expensive than renting via a joint lease, you should keep the extra cost in mind if you're on a budget.

A joint lease may sound scary if you worry about being saddled with repair costs and back rent, but at least you can decide who you live with. If you choose to sign a joint lease, you should probably make sure you know everyone you're going to be living with well enough to know whether or not they'll keep up with their portion of the rent and chores. If you want to rent an apartment as inexpensively as possible, a joint lease may be a good fit.

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of RentTally.com or any of our advertising partners.