Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As this new school year kicks off, some college students have decided to move off campus for their housing.

But without precautions, a bad scenario could leave students and their parents financially and legally liable.

While crossing over the stepping stones in life, moving away to college might be one step and moving off campus perhaps the next.

“Living on your own at 18, 19, 20 years old has many benefits and responsibilities but with that comes great risk and responsibilities,” said attorney Scott Reidenbach.

Reidenbach is an attorney who specializes in real estate law and he says that parents should have precautions in mind when offering assistance for their child’s off-campus housing, even if it means just lending a signature to the lease.

“Hands down if your child is renting property and there are other students in the property I’d have a meeting with all the other parents and students to set expectations and go over the rules of conduct in that property,” said Reidenbach.

Worst case scenario, if someone was injured, participated in underage drinking or the property suffered damage a cosigner will likely be held liable, same goes for unpaid rent.

California Could Pass Law Forcing Schools To Start Later

“If the parents cosign a lease and there is a delinquency the parents can be sued for unpaid rent,” added Reidenbach.

That’s because often times these lawsuit papers are mailed to the rental property in question and not to the cosigner’s home.

“They can default judgment against them and not even know about it until many years later and that can impact your credit report or credit rates,” said Reidenbach.

So how can students and their cosigners protect themselves from say, unreliable roommates?

“Parents should always consider getting insurance for the property where their child is renting either through their homeowners insurance that they currently carry or an umbrella policy and students themselves can get liability insurance,” explained Reidenbach.

Providing some peace of mind that college housing won’t come back to haunt you once graduation day has passed.

Something that can be a bit more complicated to work out is the utility payments since they can only be paid by one account.

So sometimes the account holder might have to pay the bill before everyone hands their portions over.