How Do You Begin the Process?
Think about your needs and wants. Ask yourself the following questions about each place that you consider:
Do you know anything about the area? Make sure to get a good sense of the neighborhood by visiting at various times of the day and night—your safety should not be compromised for low rent.
Will you have a car? If so, will parking be a problem? If you won't have a car, is there public transportation available nearby? How long will your commute to campus be?
Do you have any? Are they allowed?
Whatever is important to you. Are items such as garbage removal included in the rent? Is cable TV available? Can there be two phone lines to allow for internet access? Are roommates allowed?
Can you afford it? Are utilities included? If not, how much has it cost to heat the unit in the past? Consider the cost of gas, electricity, and water. What about the security deposit, and what are the conditions for getting it refunded upon move-out? Do you need to provide credit history information? Do you know how good your credit is? Do you know how to provide required information without jeopardizing your finances? (Don't give SSN, birth date, mother's maiden name, and checking account number all at once!)
Rental Locator Resources
Make sure to check all listings available, including fliers posted on the bulletin boards across from the PO boxes on campus, and the listings in the local newspaper. Here are some other useful resources to check out:
Once you have found a place that suits you, it's time to look at the rental agreement/lease. Consider the following:
- Read your agreement/lease completely.
- What is the length of the lease?
- Is a co-signer required?
- Get changes in writing! Verbal promises sound good, but written documents provide proof of the agreement
- If the landlord does not provide an inventory inspection form, you should fill one out on your own and provide him/her with a copy. This protects you from being charged for pre-existing damage. Sample forms for you to take are available in Suzie's Community Lounge.
- Once your agreement is signed by all parties, make sure to keep a copy for future reference.
Remember that both you and your landlord have rights and responsibilities. Staying informed will help protect you. Here are some great resources for rental law:
Are you searching for a place to share with someone? Roommate contracts can be invaluable. They help spell out how rent and utilities will be split, cleaning arrangements, and noise and visitor agreements. These items may seem trivial ahead of time, but they are especially important for students who are busy.
Here are some other things to think about in selecting a roommate:
- When do you normally get up in the morning and go to bed during the week and on the weekend?
- Do you like to watch television? How much? Which type of programs?
- What are your music preferences? How loud do you like your music?
- Are you an organized person or do you prefer to pick up your belongings only when it is necessary?
- How do you feel about having visitors in the apartment? What about overnight visitors (men, women, children)? How long can they stay?
- Are parties allowed?
- Do you have expectations that the apartment will be clean and immaculate, or do you prefer a 'lived-in' look?
- How seriously do you take your studies? What are the ideal study conditions for you?
- How do you feel about sharing possessions, whether it is clothes, electronic equipment, music, etc.?