Colorado State University


We cannot respond to requests for legal assistance made by e-mail or by the web form on our contact page. If you, as a CSU student, are in need of legal information or assistance, please bring your student ID to Room 284 of the Lory Student Center to make an appointment.

Renting: Easy as 1-2-3

  1. Prepare to rent

    • Beware of Rental Application Forms: Read every word before you sign! Some require a large deposit that you will forfeit if you decide against the property. You should only give a small amount to cover a credit check (<$50). Or, if you give a larger sum, make sure the language says you will get your deposit returned if you decide not to rent this property. Tell the landlord there is no way you can commit to a property until you’ve had time to thoroughly analyze the lease and the actual unit.
    • Check out your intended roommates:
      • Use Facebook; for $6/search you can see if they have past troubles in the Colorado courts (go to; ask them for references; talk about living habits related to guests, noise, alcohol, drugs, cleanliness.
    • You will likely have to sign a “joint liability” lease with roommates, which means the landlord can charge you for the full rent and all the damages, not just your share.
    • Check out the landlord’s reputation: Google the landlord; check the Better Business Bureau (; ask the landlord for references; talk to the current tenants; ask at Student Legal Services; call Fort Collins Neighborhood Services (224-6046) for past code violations related to the property or landlord.
    • View properties with a critical eye. Look for safety (outdoor lighting, secure doors/windows, no overgrown bushes), good repair, functioning appliances and any signs of pests. Don’t be shy to flush toilets, run showers, turn on stoves, etc.
    • Don’t sign a lease too soon. Once you sign, you are obligated for the full term. It makes no difference whether plans change and you or roommates no longer want to move in.
    • Get your camera ready! As explained below, you’ll need three sets of pictures: at lease signing; move in; and move out. Date the pictures and make a backup.
  2. Negotiate and sign the lease

    • Read every word of the lease! Meet with Student Legal Services to clarify what you don’t understand.
    • Negotiate changes on items that really matter to you. If the landlord won’t negotiate, move on.
    • Add a sentence to the bottom of the lease: “This lease is contingent upon the property being in similar shape to when the lease was signed.” If summer tenants trash the place and the landlord expects you to take it that way, you can back out. This only works if you take some pictures at the time you sign the lease.
    • BUY RENTER’S INSURANCE: only about $10/month. An absolute necessity! Will cover your belongings and will help you deal with claims that your negligence caused damage (like fire). It will not cover intentional damage you cause to the rental property. Ask your auto insurer for a quote.
  3. Move in---live in---move out

    • Take detailed photos before moving your belongings in.
    • Make a written list of every blemish/repair issue/mark on the floor or walls. Record anything that is not perfect! You don’t need a check-in form. You can use a notepad. Keep a copy and give one to your landlord.
    • Alert your landlord immediately of repair issues. If urgent, start with a phone call, but every single time, you must follow up in writing and make sure to include any promises made by landlord--email works. Save all written communication.
    • If you have significant roommate disputes, take advantage of the Conflict Resolution Office at CSU: 491-7165, 325 Aylesworth or Student Legal Services: 491-1482, 182 LSC.
    • Moving out:
      • Give advance written notice if your lease requires it; some will charge you rent if you don’t give the advance notice (up to 3 months is required by some leases)
      • Thoroughly clean, take pictures, and make a check-out list, same as you did at move-in. Make sure the landlord has your forwarding address.